5 Sage Tips for Caregivers from A Place for Mom Advisors
Senior Living Advisors are the “heart and soul” of A Place for Mom’s service. Located throughout the nation, advisors provide local support and information to families who are searching for elder care. Our advisors act as empathetic listeners and knowing guides, empowering seniors and families to make informed and confident senior housing decisions.
Since our Advisors work with numerous families each day, they’re keenly aware of the challenges families face when an older loved one’s health begins to decline. Their practical experience uniquely qualifies them to offer meaningful and useful advice to families grappling with senior living decisions.
Here are five tips from Senior Living Advisors in their own words:
1. When a Parent Who is Unsafe Alone Resists Moving
- Martina O’Donoghue, Senior Living Advisor, Wayne, NJ
“Use an educational approach. Explain that you want to show them what the options are so that they can make their own decisions about their golden years. Many seniors are not aware that senior communities can offer a very pleasant, independent lifestyle. They often think they are going to look at nursing homes or ‘old folks’ homes.
Arrange to visit communities and compare costs to the upkeep of the house. Highlight, for your parent, the aspects of life alone at home that are becoming difficult or unsafe (stairs, yard maintenance, driving, etc.)
Unless the situation is urgent, be patient, gentle and empathetic. Put yourself in their shoes and try to understand their fears and concerns.”
2. Dealing With a Parent Who is Combative Due to Dementia or Alzheimer’s
- Shelane Siebert Barrett, Senior Living Advisor, Chicago, IL
“At this point you have to step out of the box and try to gain a new perspective. If you were sitting with a friend, and she described the exact same situation to you about her parents, what would your advice be? It isn’t easy to watch our parents go through this, or to make decisions for them, but it’s a time where making decisions for them is critical to their safety.
Remember that you may need support yourself, and that you’re not alone. It may be helpful to join a support group for caregivers and loved ones of people with memory loss, which can be found through Alzheimer’s Association.”
3. When Siblings Can’t Agree on a Parent’s Care
- Dovid Grossman, Senior Living Advisor, Chicago, IL
“I once helped a senior gentleman with seven children, each wanting to help Dad as much as possible. And each had a different idea of what is best for Dad. Keep him home where he is most familiar; move him to assisted living where there are other seniors and companionship; move in with one of the kids… They even had three different Senior Living Advisors since three different siblings had contacted A Place for Mom individually.
They agreed to have a conference call and work with a single advisor. Their advisor was able to discuss the advantages and disadvantages of each of their ideas, and help them weight the benefits of each. The family kept notes in one shared place online (their MySearch page provided by A Place for Mom), as they each visited the senior communities in their respective states. After a couple more conference calls, they were able to make a joint decision on how to best support their dad together.
Having an outside, third party, Advisor helped keep the family focused on Dad and move forward as a unified, happy family.”
4. How to Tour Communities with Your Parent
- Ronnie Ashline, Former Senior Living Advisor, Seattle, WA
“Visit many potential options yourself first, and find one that you believe your parent will truly enjoy. Work with the staff to schedule a lunch tour, or to join in an activity that is happening at the community. Many communities have events that are open to the public, so this may be a simple and non-threatening way for your mom or dad to see the community for the first time.”
5. When Your Ailing Parent Lives Out of State
- Shelane Siebert, Senior Living Advisor, Chicago, IL
“‘Out of sight, out of mind’ is the furthest thing from the truth when it comes to loved ones. When you aren’t able to stop by, and your communication is limited to phone calls, you may not have a clear picture of what is happening– which can be very unsettling. Many of the families I work with are in a constant state of worry, always wondering: ‘Is Mom okay?’ ‘Did she actually take her medications?’ ‘Why isn’t she answering the phone?’
When your parent moves to a trusted senior community, the day to day activities that you have been biting your nails about are taken care of! If Mom doesn’t answer the phone, you can call the building staff to check on her. There is practically an endless supply of services available to seniors in a community, from yoga to on-site podiatrist visits. And for you? Peace of mind.”
Does any of this advice resonate with you? Do you have a unique perspective about any of these issues? Please share your comments below.
About the Author
Jeff attended the University of Alaska Fairbanks on an academic scholarship, and also studied creative writing at University of Hull, Scarborough Campus (UK). He found his calling in 2009 when he began working with seniors and their families at A Place for Mom. He enjoys literature, chess, and music. Jeff Anderson’s Google+ Profile
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