• imgs
    Aging Well Partners
  • Jan 24
  • 3 min

When It’s Time to Go

When It’s Time to Go

My dad once said to me, “no one ever tells you, how hard it is to get old.” I didn’t understand what he meant when he first uttered those words to me, but over the last 8 years I’ve worked with Seniors, I absolutely understand and get what he meant. The aging process isn’t always easy, and it’s definitely difficult for many, especially when you’re driving blind with no map.

No doubt, COVID-19 brought a whole new set of problems and new standards to the senior industry. I think the first question on everyone’s mind is “How do we get back to providing care to our aging population that keeps them safe, and can we?”

The answer is a resounding YES. Why and how do you know that? Because we have no choice. Falls don’t stop, dementia, heart failure, and COPD keep progressing, regardless of any pandemic. These diseases continue to forge ahead in spite of what is happening in our world. My colleagues and I have had to solve and deal with these challenges over the last two years, and counting. We have encountered more desperate families who can’t take care of their loved ones at home, or need additional help in the house than ever before.

If you’ve never lived with someone with a diagnosis of “dementia with behavioral disturbances,” you can’t begin to understand the stress, challenges, and massive safety issues you have on your hands. Perhaps you have a job, kids, a spouse, your own health challenges, or all of the above on your plate, plus your responsibility to care for an aging adult. What then, and who’s there to help you, especially if your two siblings have washed their hands of mom or dad, and you’re left with all of the responsibilities.

I’ve heard desperation before in a families’ voices over the phone hundreds of times over the years, but not like I did in Rich’s voice the day he called. It was just at the beginning of the shelter in place order in 2020. Rich was desperate like none before I’d heard. His dad, and sole caregiver of his mom, had fallen and was now in the hospital with his own health challenges, and his mom wasn’t doing well. His sibling and himself were hanging on by a thread, taking turns watching her day-and-night.

She was non-compliant with medication, exit seeking, prone to fits of anger and physical altercations, and she didn’t sleep at night. They needed to place their mom in memory care, but Rich felt overwhelmed by the entire process, especially since we were all on a stay at home order at the time.

He said, “What about COVID-19? Is it safe to place? Are they accepting people like my mom? How can I get the necessary paperwork from my doctor the state requires? How can I see what these communities look like? How do I know if they are good? Have you been there?”

The questions and lists of things to worry about can be a mile long, and it unquestionably was for Rich. I certainly understood and got it. What would usually take one week to accomplish took me four weeks, and not without major hoops to jump through. It was accomplished happily and safely in the end, but here’s what you can do if you’re facing eminent need of placement for a loved one, even two years later.

Step one is get help yourself. Don’t do this on your own. Let me say this one more time. GET HELP YOURSELF.  You wouldn’t write an estate or retirement plan on your own, and the same goes for placing your family member in an assisted living, memory care or residential board and care. Yes, three different options, one license in the state of California. Every state has their own regulations so seek a local expert for help. There are too many things that can go wrong when you don’t have the facts, rules, the regulations, that come into play when you are placing your love one for their particular needs. One more time, “their particular needs.” Everyone requires something different. If it was as easy to pick a place based on geography or cost, my phone would never ring.

I think the number one error families make when placing a family member is taking the advice of a friend or neighbor who says, my mom loved it, you should go there too. You wouldn’t take your friend’s medication just because it worked for her. Same goes with placement fit. You need your own prescription of what is best for your loved-one based on their care needs, budget, family dynamics, and lifestyle.

As we enter our third year of living with COVID-19 our most vulnerable, seniors, need and deserve the kind of expert help your local Certified Senior Advisor can provide. Here’s to aging well America.