I met with a lovely couple last week. They are both in the 80’s and have been living in their two-story home for the last 50 plus years. He has Parkinson’s Disease (PD) and has fallen several times. Luckily to date, he has not broken any bones or injured himself badly. He called our company because he knew that he and his wife needed assistance in understanding their options in terms of either staying in their current home or in exploring alternate accommodation. There really are two options: Stay or Go™.
The ‘Stay’ part includes exploring care options within the home as well as addressing accessibility and safety issues. The soft issues that are part and parcel of this process includes helping them address and grieve their losses. He was a gentleman who did everything for himself, including all home maintenance and repairs. Today he is not able to do up his buttons. His power tools were removed when his wife came home and found him trying to fix a broken item; a task that can be both very difficult with limited fine finger control and dexterity and potentially dangerous for those with ataxia.
One of the other challenges that we began to address was their interaction and the difficulty he has in accepting his wife as his primary caregiver. For her part, she too struggles with their losses and the changes that the disease brings.
The ‘Go’ part includes a review of retirement settings. I use the 3 C’s with families to help us both better understand and identify their needs.
The first ‘C’: CARE This includes a discussion on what amount and type of care does the person require?
-What is the medical condition and is it chronic, temporary, progressive or palliative?
-How is the condition being treated medically and what course of treatment and outcome can be expected?
-Will the care needs increase over time?
My second ‘C’: COST
-What is the cost of hiring care?
-What will be the total monthly cost?
-Do you know all of your current monthly costs? Remember that food and lodging are usually included in the retirement residence cost while care is often available on an incremental cost basis.
-What is the cost of the care component by itself? Consider costs for nursing, the services of a personal support worker, other therapies, medication monitoring and administration, and any special equipment that may be needed.
My third ‘C’: CHOICE
-Is there a preferred geographic location?
-How important is it to be close to family, friends, religious organization, doctors?
-How important is it to be close to public transportation?
-Are pets welcome?
-Are there other personal preferences that should be considered, such as special diets or a sense of religious or cultural community?
-What amenities are available?
This is not an easy process but one that I would say is critical. Success- the first step is recognizing that the aging process may not take care of itself and that professional guidance is required to explore options and resources. The second successful step is actually making the call. After working with this couple I would say we have been successful. I have had the privilege to work with a wonderful couple who is now better informed and is able to make a sound decision for themselves.