As a caregiver, anticipating having to move your loved one to a care setting can be a difficult time. The reasons are often complex, and it’s easy to second-guess the decision. The reasons are also common, and knowing you are not alone in this difficult decision is reassuring.
If you have been asking yourself, “Is it time to place my loved one in a care setting?” – here are some practical tools and tips to help with the conversation.
What Leads One to Anticipate a Transition?
Caregiver Concerns – what about your own situation is motivating you to plan for a change?
· Burnout – especially if caring intensely or for a long period of time.
· Physical Health Challenges and Exhaustion – when doctors’ appointments and wellness checks get postponed and the caregiver’s restful sleep is interrupted.
· Feelings of Anger and Resentment – grappling with “this isn’t where I planned to be at this point in my life – we had great plans for our retirement, and now I’m a caregiver isolated at home.”
· Financial Concerns – the expense of hiring in-home care services, or if you’re working to make ends meet and trying to juggle it all.
Care Receiver Concerns – what about your loved one’s health diagnosis is contributing to this decision?
· Wandering – a loved one with a dementia diagnosis can wake up in the middle of the night and go missing despite your great efforts to keep watch.
· Incontinence Care – the stress and constant clean up that comes with bowel and bladder incontinence.
· Confusion with Time – getting days and nights turned around with sundowner’s syndrome.
· Aggression and Challenging Behaviors – especially for families who are not equipped or do not have the knowledge to manage these challenging situations; everyone’s safety is a serious matter.
· Resisting Help Coming into the Home – very adamant about not allowing anyone else into the home, whether housekeeping, a caregiver, or any other unfamiliar person.
· Need for More Socialization and Activity – sometimes the individual requires more interaction, supervision and activity than the immediate family can provide, especially if the individual’s environment is more isolated and they are used to being social.
Who Is in Your Support Circle?
Caregivers are resilient and resourceful, and the more we can surround ourselves with a unique team of support, the more easily we can tackle big decisions.
· Family – they want to help, but they don’t know how – what are the key skills that your family members have that you can rely on? Let them know what your needs are.
· Friends – they are waiting to be asked – sometimes the best folks in our support circle may not be family members. Be creative and reach out!
· Community Support Groups – for many, support groups become a life-line. If you don’t find the right support group the first time, keep trying.
· Professionals – does your doctor’s office have a care manager or case manager who helps with resources? This also includes our spiritual connections. Who are the key people in your place of worship or congregation? Is there a parish nurse – is there a health care ministry?
Don’t Wait for a Crisis
Making a rushed decision does not always end up being appropriate or have the best outcome. It becomes increasingly difficult if your loved one has a sudden cognitive or physical decline and you are trying to coordinate care all at once. Establishing a plan before the crisis allows you to build relationships with community professionals – you want to know whom contact when you need that timely and trusted guidance.
Choosing a Facility
There are more than 600 facilities in Sacramento County alone, and with many more in outlying counties, it can be daunting to start looking. Be sure to work with a reputable placement agency like Senior Care Solutions to help you narrow the hundreds of options to the most appropriate 3–5 facilities for your needs. We work with our clients to identify the most important priorities they are considering:
· Services and amenities offered
· Safety and security
· Private or shared apartment or room
· Qualified nursing staff, dementia-trained staff
· Dining program
Senior Care Solutions can help you prepare to complete the required paperwork, and give you guidance about other beneficial legal and financial documents and resources to have in place. Two key steps absolutely must be taken:
· Physician’s Report (Physician’s Report for Residential Care Facilities for the Elderly (RCFE) – Licensing Form 602A: https://www.cdss.ca.gov/cdssweb/entres/forms/english/lic602a.pdf): This form is required to move your loved one into assisted living or a small residential care home – also known as a board and care home. We advise our clients that if you are in a 1–3-month time frame of making a transition, you will want to get this form to the Primary Care Physician to get things in motion.
· Current Tuberculosis (TB) Test: The Form 602 has a section directing you to have the TB test completed. You can have the test performed at your doctor’s office, or use the results of a chest X-ray if your loved one was recently hospitalized.
When you have the completed form and TB test, you can place your loved one very quickly if there is a crisis. If not, you’re at the mercy of your primary care doctor’s schedule, who may or may not be out of the office on vacation just when you need this most.
You Are Empowered!
During COVID-19, a lot of people are feeling like their hands are tied, but even if you are sheltering-in-place, there’s a lot you can do to be proactive. Contact Senior Care Solutions, and we can provide you with resources on care facilities. Given the pandemic, most facilities have virtual tours, and a lot can be accomplished over the telephone. That way, as things open back up, you will have narrowed in on 1–2 options that you will be ready to tour in person.
Your Questions Answered
Ask! We are here to help you work through your thoughts and concerns, so you can have peace of mind when you are ready to make a transition. When you call our main number, you will be directed to one of our family consultants. Or you can email us through our website or on our Facebook page. We will get through this together. Get in touch today!
Senior Care Solutions invites you to get in touch with us in the following ways:
Phone: (916) 965-5565 | After Hours or on Weekends:(916) 821-2273
Complete an online Inquiry Form here.
Video content adapted and written by Taryn Benson, MHA