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  • Cameron Oglesby

The time to plan for caregiving help is earlier than you think

Sometimes independence-undermining disabilities develop slowly over time, and sometimes they strike literally overnight. But either way, says a Registered Nurse Joel Theisen, who’s “seen it happen hundreds of times,” it’s much better to “Seek help sooner rather than later…Start exploring options before your parents need them.”

Doing that can preserve not only your parents’ financial resources, but also prolong their independence.

A shared room in a nursing home can cost $1000,000 a year or more. Medicaid will eventually cover that cost, but only after residents have spent down virtually all their savings and provided “years of financial statements.” Assisted living costs a bit less but lacks full Medicare overage.

Needless to say, neither provides the independence that living at home – even with home modifications and caregiving help – does.

Getting that help early, before time pressures kick in, helps in two ways: You’re not going it alone, and you can act “from a position of strength and health.”

And the people who provide it are what Theisen calls “geriatric care managers (GCMs), life managers or even aging life coordinators,” who

specialize in helping older people figure out what they need and how to get it – sort of like a professional relative without the built-in family dynamic. I'd say anyone over 65, and certainly by 75, should be having this discussion with a pro. It's not about dependency but independency.

A GCM's job is to discover what's important to a client, identify limitations (actual and imagined), locate resources, and put a plan in place. Maybe a bar in the bathtub before balance worsens, or moving dry goods to lower kitchen cabinets before the arthritis gets too bad. They can help with everything from interviewing home health aides or personal care attendants well before one's needed, meaning you can be picky and thus more likely to find a good fit, to finding a local group with similar interests, lessening the anxiety that can come from isolation.

GCMs take the burden off both parents and adult children, and let the person impacted decide what life will look like going forward.

That’s a perfect description of what we do at Senior Insights and how we do it.

The very first part of our holistic senior care management planning is a thorough three-part needs assessment in which we ascertain not only our clients’ and their families’ physical, emotional and environmental needs, but their values and priorities as well. The personal information we learn becomes the basis of a custom-tailored, coordinated plan that provides exactly the care our client needs to keep living as independently as possible, in the lifestyle they prefer, for as long as possible. So please contact us for a consultation. The sooner you do, the sooner you can make a difference between just surviving and thriving.

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