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Levels of Care

"What are Levels of Care?" and "Why are every facility's levels different?"  Great questions and a big consideration when choosing the right assisted living facility for your loved one.

Everyone who moves into an assisted living facility needs assistance of some type.  It can be as simple as needing assistance with nutritional meals, assistance with managing medications, or assistance with tasks such as laundry and housekeeping.  It can be as complex as a need for total assistance with bathing, grooming, and dressing due to limited physical abilities or a decrease in the memory needed to complete those tasks alone.  Facilities typically evaluate a potential resident to determine how much assistance they will need with daily tasks so that the facility can adequately schedule the staff needed to provide for the needs of all it's residents.

The State of Florida requires minimum staffing hours* (not ratios) to meet the needs, both scheduled and unscheduled, of …

Mom's out back.

For the past few years, I have gotten into the tiny house craze.  I mean really into the tiny house craze.  Living tiny is on my personal Bucket List!  And as the movement has evolved, it has begun to resonate with millennials embracing minimalism, Veteran organizations combating homelessness, working class citizens who desire home ownership, and as an answer to affordable senior housing.

Tiny house neighborhoods are being built to house veterans and provide services in a supportive community, providing a meaningful solution to a profoundly impacted population.  Millennials are buying tiny homes in numbers to avoid financial pitfalls of previous generations, unwilling to add mortgage debt to rising education loans.  In high priced real estate markets, ADU's (Accessory Dwelling Units) are being built in backyards to allow for affordable home ownership or reasonable rental rates in neighborhoods otherwise unattainable.  And now, these smaller dwellings, enhanced with features such a…

My crystal ball is in the shop....

Long before the emergence of nursing homes and assisted living facilities, families took care of senior loved ones regardless of cost, convenience, or care needs.  In the so-called simpler times, seniors moved in with adult children and grandchildren gave up time, attention, and personal space to dote on their elders during final years of life.  As time marched on, families began to move to various locations to raise their families and make a living, separating seniors from their adult children and grandchildren.  Distance has increased the expense of caring for our senior family members.  Expense that continues to increase as the number of seniors increases, the number of caregivers decreases, and state funding systems stretch to the breaking point.
The amount of money needed after retirement to maintain lifestyle and healthcare continues to be widely debated.  Articles regarding how much money is enough to live comfortably on in retirement have been making the internet rounds for qui…

Nice isn't enough....

Theodore Roosevelt has been credited with saying, “People won't care how much you know until they know how much you care.”  It’s common to find people who care in senior healthcare.  That’s nice.  You still want to know how much they know.  Senior services is a constantly growing industry and offers many enticing franchise opportunities and other businesses that have limited to no regulatory oversight.  Many people have seen dollar signs as they jump into the senior care industry after decades in a non-related field and suddenly entitle themselves “senior experts” and “senior advisors.”  When seeking financial or legal advice, your neighbor may have good intentions, your friend from church may have “gone through this before” with their own parent – yours is a very individualized journey – you want to find a licensed, seasoned professional in the field of your inquiry.  When handling these sensitive areas of your senior loved one’s lives – care, finances, legacy – you want to be su…

Gather 'round....

In 2012, I had the honor of attending a seminar featuring the late Dr. Dennis McCullough, author of “My Mother, Your Mother:  Embracing ‘Slow Medicine,’ The Compassionate Approach to Caring for your Aging Loved Ones.”  I had previously read the book and, awed by his insight, bought copies for each member of my assisted living leadership team; several of whom joined me in attending the seminar.  His presentation was thoughtful, and brilliant, and inspiring - I became a total "fan girl" that day and floated away with a signed copy of his book which remains on my shelf with signed copies of books by Naomi Feil and Nicholas Sparks.
Dr. Dennis McCullough most eloquently described individuals involved in the care of a senior as their “Circle of Concern.”  The Circle of Concern describes “balanced, mutually respectful, and supportive partnerships between doctors, nurses, and other health practitioner and elder patients, their families, close friends, neighbors, and anyone else chose…

M-I-C...K-E-Y.....MOUSE

When I started as a social worker in a nursing home many years ago, Alzheimer's Disease wasn't as studied as it is today.  There were many in the nursing home diagnosed with "probable Alzheimer's" or "senile dementia" but we had no special unit, programming, or training for these patients.  They were mingled within the general population of chronically ill and, as this was a time before assisted living was prevalent, Medicaid recipients with no where more appropriate to go.

As the Social Services Director I also served as the Admissions Director and met with all families as they brought their family members to the nursing home under a variety of circumstances.  One family member, Anne, came to meet with me as her mom was admitted to the nursing home.  Her mom had been found walking far from her home, again, and was not able to tell responding police where she lived.  Anne and her mom, Shirley, had been estranged for a number of years for a number of rea…

Respect the Stuff

I'm currently working with a sweet couple, married over 60 years, who spent their lives in service to our country.  In their extended travels with the military, they lived in several foreign countries and their spacious home is filled with beautiful pieces of furniture and art.  Recognizing that they were in need of a little more assistance with managing day-to-day life, they contacted me to help them find the right assisted living facility.

As we toured beautiful facilities that would be perfect for their needs, they grew more and more disappointed with each option we explored - the apartments were "so small!"  After briefly touching on the concept of downsizing, of bringing just what you need, and letting go of the furniture that remains, I knew I had lost them.  They simply cannot bring themselves to part with these items that help define their life together.  The search stopped and they remain at home, with a growing village of providers trying to help them manage da…