By Rosanne DiStefano
---- — Q: My frail, elderly mother lives with our family. Mom has had numerous health issues this past year resulting in several hospitalizations. My oldest daughter is getting married next month out of state. My mother has decided as much as she would like to be at the wedding she thinks the trip would be too hard on her. I hope she may feel better and change her mind. Fortunately, mom can afford to pay for any arrangements but I am clueless about the options to consider. Can you point us in the right direction?
A: The first step is determining what level of care your mother is going to require. To a large extent this should help clarify what short term respite choice will not only provide necessary services but make her feel comfortable. Does your mother need help with activities such as food preparation, personal care, medication management, monitoring of vital signs? Does she ambulate on her own? Is she confused? Is she willing to leave the residence while the family is out of town?
There are three primary resources to consider; bringing services into the home, assisted living facilities or skilled nursing facilities. The first option is to arrange for care in your own home. This could be for a few hours a day or around the clock care if your mother would be at risk alone. Private homemaker agencies should be contacted to inquire about their availability to cover the service plan. Ask for references and check them out to feel more comfortable about the quality of care provided and satisfaction from previous customers. You would want to make sure there is a back-up plan in place in the event a worker is out ill or has a sudden conflict. It would also be a plus to have your mother meet the worker or workers involved ahead of time to make sure it would be a good match.
Assisted living facilities are a great option for someone who does not need daily skilled medical care. They offer supportive services, meals, housekeeping, and socialization opportunities. Depending upon the facility some may have more extensive amenities included. Arrange for tours to get a sense of the environment and staff attentiveness to residents.
One of the skilled nursing facilities would be the optimum placement if your mother’s health would be compromised without extensive oversight. She would receive assistance with all activities of daily living, nursing supervision, medication management, meals and social activities. Availability in some home may be an issue.
If the task of finalizing preparations seems daunting to you it may be very helpful to seek professional advice through a care manager. You should also seek advice from her primary care physician, he may have insight that you might not have considered. Don’t delay in pursuing arrangements, assessments may need to be conducted, forms filled out and medical information gathered.
You might also want to ask a few of your mother’s friends to visit her while you are away. Even though it appears to be her decision not to attend the wedding she will inevitably feel a little lonely and nervous if this is the first time you have been away from her since she started living with you.
Do you have a question? We encourage inquiries and comments from our readers. Direct correspondence to firstname.lastname@example.org or Elder Services of the Merrimack Valley, Inc. 360 Merrimack Street B#5, Lawrence, MA 01843. Rosanne DiStefano is the Executive Director of Elder Services of the Merrimack, Inc.