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Navigating the Senior Care Maze: A Family Story

Dana Larsen
By Dana LarsenAugust 5, 2015
Navigating the Senior Care Maze: A Family Story

Making the decision to move a loved one to senior care can be extremely emotional. But knowing that your loved one has the expert care they need — that you may not be able to provide — makes a difference

One Canadian family received a double diagnosis that both their parents suffered from dementia and found a friend, unexpectedly, who helped them navigate a realm of healthcare they’d never experienced. Learn how this ‘angel’ helped make a very challenging process a little less burdensome.

A Family Story: The Move to Senior Care

No one is prepared for the unwelcome news that their loved one has Alzheimer’s or dementia. Ontario residents, Mary Beth and her husband were no exception.

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When they received a double-dose diagnosis that both David’s parents had dementia, they went through a whirlwind of emotions, but had to keep it together because they had to make some big decisions. Should they keep David’s parents in their family home, or move them into a retirement home? Who would provide the expert care the couple needed? What were their financial options?

Luckily they found some answers through a simple Google search.

Expert Advice From a Senior Living Advisor At No Cost to Families

Mary Beth was shocked to get a phone call from A Place for Mom (APFM) just minutes after she’d filled out information online after searching for senior living in Canada. She was connected with Jennifer Goldman, A Senior Living Advisor from Ontario, who helps families with senior care challenges on a daily basis. Mary Beth discusses how she doesn’t know how her family would have fared had Jennifer not been there to help:

“When you’re faced with something like this, you have all sorts of immediate questions you need to think about and review. You are not the expert, but have to make educated decisions in a timely manner. Jennifer saved us. I truly don’t know how we would have gone through this without Jennifer’s knowledge and expertise of communities; she cut the search time down immensely as she knew all the local memory care communities and visiting physicians.”

She continues, “For example, the goal was to have my parent in-laws moved to an independent care community that also offered memory care services and a more specialized level-of-care down the road. Neither of my in-laws thought they had a problem, so it made the move a little easier since they could be a part of the decision-making process. Narrowing-down the search and figuring all this out was hard, and Jennifer helped with all of this. She had the knowledge to help us, but she was also a truly caring person.”

Mary Beth had never heard of A Place for Mom, so it was a very pleasant surprise to hear that Jennifer’s services were no cost to her family.

“I couldn’t believe it was free. Jennifer was our own personal consultant; she zeroed-in on the right communities to tour and the right economic fit. And we didn’t even have to pay for telephone charges,” notes Mary Beth. “None of my friends had heard about APFM, but I’m going to be sure to tell all of them about Jennifer and this wonderful service.”

Healthcare a ‘Provincial Responsibility’ in Canada

Mary Beth’s family was surprised to find out that there were specific laws in Canada they had to adhere to when going through their senior care experience:

“There is the public care government statues with a long waiting list, and there are also private care regulations. There are 10 provinces and 3 territories, and each has their own provincial regulations about retirement and nursing homes; so each jurisdiction has their own governing statutes that apply. We were lucky to have Jennifer to help guide us,” comments Mary Beth.

Basically, a care plan had to be developed that had to be started with a medical appointment.

Jennifer helped Mary Beth’s family with these laws specific to Ontario, Canada:

  1. Retirement Homes Regulatory Authority (RHRA): Legislation that oversees retirement homes in Ontario. Read the Plain-Language Guide and other educational materials on the Act and regulations for an overview.
  2. Ontario Retirement Communities Association: Overview of the legislation and other general information.
  3. Ontario’s Ministry of Health and Long Term Care Act: Overview on the legislation that governs nursing homes.
  4. Advocacy Centre for the Elderly: A pamphlet that is a good overview. (The legislation was revamped in 2010.)

Emotionally, it was a struggle to grasp that family members could no longer live in their homes and had to be moved into senior living, let alone have to decipher important legal information about proper steps for moving forward with a senior care plan.

Mary Beth’s family was very thankful to have Jennifer’s knowledge, expertise and empathy. “We would speak for an hour at a time. I really leaned on Jennifer and am so thankful she was there for our family,” remembers Mary Beth.

Healthcare Plans Specific to the Situation

These days, memory care offers more than assisted living; it offers improved quality of life with state-of-the-art construction catered to memory care residents, as well as, excellent amenities and a plethora of activities. But families need some guidance to find the right fit for their loved ones.

“Speaking to Jennifer and really drilling down to understand the type of medical system available is important to understand,” comments Mary Beth. “Families need to know and understand what to expect upon move-in. We needed a doctor who was available to take new patients and Jennifer found options for us. I really do think I could not have navigated the system of retirement homes so efficiently — and effectively, ultimately — without Jennifer. She is just an excellent consultant.”

What challenges have you faced in your search for assisted living? Share your story with us in the comments below.

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Dana Larsen
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Dana Larsen

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