By Mark Friedman
Being in the business of providing care in the home, I believe in the concept of aging in place. For my agencies, Senior Helpers South Shore and Senior Helpers Boston, it means meeting our elder clients’ needs wherever that place happens to be; their home, an assisted living community or any other setting they call “home”. Our seniors today are living longer, healthier and stronger lives. As they age in place these patriarchs and matriarchs will require care, personal support, companionship and help along the way. Our mission is to provide great care and to encourage and be a source for education so they can navigate what I refer to as The Elder Continuum of Care. We are all going to need support as we age. It’s not a matter of if, it’s a matter of when.
In this first of several articles I will be doing on this topic, I encourage you to think about four major questions you need to ask as you evaluate decisions about your future care. It is a starting point. You may not be able to answer all the questions successfully (or get your aging parents to!), but it will give you the framework for conversations that will help you make important decisions down the road for yourself or for your loved one(s).
- What type of care do or may be needed? Is it a short term need (recovery) or long term? Do I need professional care or can my family support my needs? What types of professional providers have what I need and what’s the difference between them? Will my needs require major lifestyle choices from those I will depend on?
- What are my options for living? At home, community based living (Independent, Assisted, Continuous Care) Skilled long term care, and combinations of these options are all different. What does each represent in service and care? What are the options for aging in place? What if spouses have different care needs? What then?
- What do these options cost? What is my time horizon? Short, medium, long term? What is included? Do I have insurance? How do I protect assets for both my parents?
- What do my resources allow and what public resources can I access and how? What are the application processes and forms? Who is licensed to help me and how can I validate their credentials? Is there a waiting list or qualification standards? Does access vary by state or town?
More than ever, it’s important to start having these conversations with each other, or your loved ones In my own family I’ve been personally successful with some of these issues, less so with others! What is important is to start the discussion before you are forced to make decisions in a crisis.
In my next article I will cover the importance of exploring resources in the Elder Care Continuum. Finding the right expertise to guide you in some of these areas can make a world of difference. Lining up the right questions to ask of the right people in the appropriate organizations can save so much frustration down the road.
I understand all too well these are both highly emotional and seriously practical decisions you will be making. Having the opportunity to quietly distill and absorb the information you have assembled, as a family, is a great blessing. Making these important decisions in crisis mode, after a major fall, stroke, or from a hospital room, is not.
My goal is to get you thinking about ways to approach to navigating the Continuum of Elder Care that keeps you informed, educated, and motivated to take charge of the journey, at whatever stage of it you are in. Start these important conversations. Get the game plan together that gives you, and your loved one, maximum preparedness.
I am reminded of a slogan from a completely unrelated industry. Remember Sy Syms, the discount clothing giant? For years, he said it best, “an educated consumer is our best customer.” Today, if we could all look forward to our journey of aging in place, asking the right questions about the travel arrangements seems like a very wise thing to do.
This above article is reprinted from the November 2016 issue of the South Shore Senior News.
This is the first in a series of articles I will be writing each month for South Shore News. I hope to inform and encourage seniors and families to stay in charge of their aging. I invite you to send me comments and suggestions for topics.
You can contact me at: MFriedman@SeniorHelpers.com
About the Author
Mark Friedman is the Owner of Senior Helpers Boston and South Shore. He is passionate about seniors ability to age in place. The goal of his agency is to set a new standard in home care in Massachusetts first by delivering an exceptional home care experience in through highly trained caregivers and case managers; secondly by becoming a significant connection for elders to resources and services in the 75 communities his company serves. Friedman writes and leads continuous education with NASW, ANCC and EAB credits. He has taught in the Lasell College ELDER certificate program, guest lectured at the Tepper School of Business, Harvard Business School Executive Education, Emerson University and others. He is a member of the Private Duty Advisory Committee of the Home Care Alliance of MA and a founding member and Vice Chair of the Home Care Association of America Massachusetts Chapter. He has also served as the national Chair of the Senior Helpers Owners Council for over 5 years.