Helping Seniors and Their Families Transition to Residential Care
As homecare professionals, we believe the ideal place to grow old is at home—but sometimes a senior’s health needs or financial means make that impractical. No matter how obvious it may become that a senior needs in-patient care, it is nonetheless a difficult and sometimes heart-wrenching decision for families to move a loved one out of their home. As leaders in senior care, we must prioritize our clients’ health as we help them balance their needs and desires—and transition them through a challenging time. Encouraging full-time assisted living is a practice to be taken seriously and carried out with the utmost care and compassion.
Here are four important guidelines for helping families make this decision:
#1 Take the time to listen
Every senior has their own story, so the senior care model that’s best for one may not be right for another. Senior care advisors must take the time to listen and understand. It’s important to provide guidance to the families on what to expect, to let them know we understand this is difficult, and to be patient with the strong emotions that arise. It’s normal for the senior to feel confused, vulnerable, or even angry. This can cause family members to feel guilty or to second-guess their intuitions.
When we take time to coach the senior and family members and to help them acknowledge and accept these emotions, we also open their minds to new options that may ultimately make their lives easier, more productive, and more content.
#2 Communicate the benefits
There are two sets of clients in this process, the senior and the family, and both need to be engaged and supported. The more informed the families feel, the less room for confusion and misunderstandings that can lead to anxiety and apprehension. Clients need to feel safe and cared for from the beginning, so as healthcare professionals we need to provide the peace of mind families need during this process.
Share these benefits of residential care:
- Simplifies care for both the senior, caregivers, and the family
- Provides an environment that reduces accidents and allows immediate response to illness
- Creates more freedom for a highly-dependent senior by placing them in an environment that creates more options
- Removes responsibility from an overburdened family
- When appropriate, remind the family that it’s okay to need to remove some of the burden from their shoulders if it’s become too much.
- In some situations, residential care can actually be less expensive if the senior’s needs demand frequent and highly skilled attention (more on finances in a later section)
#3 The decision takes time
Some families will need time to digest the information they’ve been given. In order for them to make a decision from a calm place, they may need to process through their emotions and gut reactions. Healthcare managers aim to ensure their clients are comfortable and secure with their decision. We can’t assume that the logical and obvious (to us) answer will be immediately accepted by the family members or the senior—and sometimes time is all that is needed for them to arrive on the same page about a decision.
According to The Genworth 2014 Cost of Care Survey, close to 70 percent of those beyond age 65 will require some type of in-patient care in their lifespan, yet over 90% surveyed have not discussed important long-term care matters with their families. So, often times healthcare managers are starting from a clean slate in initiating this conversation—in which case, patience is even more paramount to a decision that all can accept and feel good about.
Another way to ease this conversation is to be armed with good data. If you use smart software with tracking and analytics, you can show trends over time with respect to risk and key health indicators. At Senior Growth, we provide smart assessment tools that create standardized and useful data. The tool creates a single view into each senior’s progress, plans, risk assessment, and trends. This type of data will facilitate a conversation about how things are changing and why the care plan needs to change, too.
#4 Finances matter
In most cases in-home care is more affordable than residential care. The difference in cost can lead family members to push back a decision rather than focusing on health and need. According to a National Examination by Age Wave, people are five times more worried about being a burden on their family than they are of dying. Five times more likely. That’s a stressor that only makes this transition more difficult.
Senior care providers help by staying on top of the latest news on public programs and governmental assistance. You can work with the family to effectively plan a practical long-term care strategy—to help them look at the financial situation head on and make a plan that will work for them. To recognize their actual options and the true cost of those options can be stressful, but it’s less stressful than the unknown or getting into a financial burden that is too large for the family to bear
As we ease the transition into long-term care for seniors, it is our responsibility to help families fully understand all of the pieces to consider in making the best decision for their senior parent or family member. We can help them identify and comfort their worries and concerns and connect the missing links, so families can confidently choose the best placement where their loved one can thrive.
Do you have more to add to the conversation? Tweet us @SeniorGrowth with #SeniorCareLetGo.
At SeniorGrowth, we are dedicated to improving the Quality of Life for seniors through data intelligence. We build solutions to empower senior care organizations with predictive care intelligence and to enable them to effectively manage and improve their seniors’ outcomes, independence and quality of life.
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