Amy Shaffer, marketing coordinator at Wesley Ridge, explains her experiences with end of life decisions. Take a moment to read her tips for discussing advance directives and end of life decisions with your partner, your parents and your closest friends.
By: Peg Carmany
When someone you love is diagnosed with a life limiting illness, it may be a time when the kaleidoscope of your life suddenly snaps into focus. Or it may be a time when the laser focus of your life becomes scattered. And very likely, there will be some of both. Of the research I have done, and the practical tips I can share from my own experience, these are my favorite pieces of advice:
1. Remember there is no right answer on how you’re supposed to act, and you should not assume that you are supposed to know exactly what to do and exactly how to act. It’s OK to fall apart, but one word of caution about that: try not to let the person who is ill be your primary source of comfort when you do hit a wall.
2. When trying to follow Tip 1, remember that your established role with this loved one doesn’t necessarily switch at the moment of diagnosis. Perhaps only one of you has ever been good under stress? It’s okay to keep it that way. Both of you may take great comfort in continuing on with familiar patterns.
3. Make it a priority to show your love as your loved one is facing what may be overwhelming and scary. It’s not all roses and chocolates – be authentic, be honest, and be yourself. Express gratitude to them for how they have positively impacted your life – and share happy memories – and don’t be afraid to say goodbye, tenderly.
4. Respect their authority to make their own decisions, whether you like it or not. These are their choices, not yours.
5. Keep things as normal as possible. Continue watching your favorite tv shows together or listening to their favorite music, it can be a very meaningful thing.
6. Laugh when you can, and don’t be afraid to poke a little fun at the whole situation. A sense of humor will lighten any mood!
7. And perhaps most importantly: listen, and give advice only when asked. This one can be the most challenging. Often, we are great talkers, but not the best listeners.
Remember, your loved one needs your emotional support. If you are feeling overwhelmed, don’t be afraid to ask for help. Often family and friends who live near by are more than willing to help with errands. And, if you need further support, Wesley Hospice can visit your home, the community you live in, and even hospitals.
We send our deepest condolences to the families who are faced with a loved one being diagnosed with a life limiting illness. And, we hope that with these tips you’ll be able to better love your loved one during this time.
There comes a time in the lives of some older adults when independent living is no longer an option. However, it can be difficult for a family to make the decision to move a loved one into a community, especially when the individual feels that he or she is getting along just fine.
Hiring an at home caregiver might be an option, however, when an individual has a condition that requires 24-hour monitoring or skilled nursing care, moving to a long-term care community might be the best option. While it can be tough, transitioning can be made easier with some planning. Consider these tips and suggestions for how to transition parents who require more than at home care.
Be sure you make visits before the care is necessary. If you anticipate your parent or loved one will need to move to an assisted living or long-term care community, consider visiting various locations. If your parent can visit with you, they can get a first-hand look and ask questions. Involving your parent allows them to have input into the process. Not all communities are the same, so visiting can help you eliminate those that don’t appeal to you or your parent.
Unfortunately, residential care is not cheap. You can count on most, if not all, your loved one’s resources being used to cover the bill. For these reasons, families cannot afford to wait until the last minute to learn about payment options. If an older adult owns a house or has money in bank accounts, they may be required by law to tap into those resources to pay for residential care. Contact your local senior services or county social services agency to learn about resources to help cover the costs. Older adults with limited resources may qualify for special Medicaid programs for long-term care.
Preparation can go a long way when transitioning your parents to a community. But, the benefits are endless. It will limit worry and stress, and ensure that everyone is on the same page during the transition.
I think we all can remember the vacations, or weekend trips that were spent with the people who mean the most to us. Family vacations are a great way to bond and create these everlasting memories. But, don’t say goodbye to a vacation, just because a family member is getting older. These trips are important, so here are a few tips to make traveling with an elderly loved one more enjoyable.
Talk to their doctor.
Especially if there are pre-existing health conditions or concerns. You’ll want to consult with your loved one’s health care professional to ensure it’s safe to travel. They may also have recommendations for traveling, including length of stay and activity level during the trip.
Consider accommodations ahead of time.
If your loved one has trouble walking or is in a wheelchair, you’ll want to ensure that the proper accommodations are made. For example, certain seats while traveling on an airplane may be more accessible. It can make all the difference to purchase a rental car that can easily fit a walker or wheel chair, if necessary. You’ll also want to ensure that your hotel or condo can accommodate the medical equipment your loved one may need.
Consider physical activity.
It may be wise, depending on the activity level of your loved one, to consider the amount of strenuous activities that you plan. For example, deep sea fishing may sound fun but, a dolphin tour may be more relaxed and easier for the whole family to enjoy.
Make sure to pack for the weather. If you are traveling somewhere warm bring sunscreen, a hat and sunglasses. If it’s a cold destination be sure to bring hats, gloves, and handwarmers. No matter where you are it’s necessary to bring snacks and water, as well as their important medical information.
Remember to relax.
It’s important to remember that this is a vacation. One person shouldn’t spend all their time caregiving. You need to relax and unwind too. There are many ways to do so, for example an early morning yoga class. For more assistance, you could also consider hiring a travel companion. This person could be helpful if your loved one will need help with daily activities. A travel companion can help you and your loved one feel more comfortable.
Have you traveled with a loved one before? If so, what tips do you have to make the trip go smoothly?
If mail is piling up, your parents are making unusual purchases, or if their memory is poor it may be time for someone to help handle finances. It can be a frustrating process for the entire family when parents age and money becomes a problem. But, feuds over who is responsible for the care can diminish family bonds. Luckily, there are a few things you can do to make the process go a bit smoother, despite the level of care your parent needs and the amount of money they have left.
1.) Prepare everyone. This process can be simplified by talking to your parents before money is an issue. This dialogue will allow your parents to feel more comfortable talking about their finances. And, you will have a better idea of what to expect in the future.
2.) Take care of yourself. It’s important to start by taking time for yourself to effectively take care of anyone else. This could mean a lot of things to various individuals. But, at the end of the day it’s making time for you and the things that give you energy. You can’t help others until you’re well yourself. As a caregiver, you can be pushed to your limit. You could be at risk to suffer from stress and sleep deprivation. Without maintaining your own health, you could soon be the one needing care.
3.) Get them organized. Ensuring that your parents are organized is essential. Create a record of account numbers, passwords, and other important financial information. This will make it much easier for you, when it comes time for your help.
4.) Enlist a support system. Many times, if family and friends all pitch in the duties can be spilt up to a manageable list (that’s free of charge). Think about communities that you or your parents are a part of. Could anyone from church run mom or dad to the grocery store every Wednesday? Or mow the lawn? You would be surprised at the support that is available when you ask.
5.) Stick to their budget. Although it’s hard when a parent needs in-home care, it’s often necessary. Be honest with people at various facilities that you’re looking at. Some communities have options for people with little money. But, at the end of the day you should be focused on providing affordable and necessary care for your parent.
Through preparation, care and a set budget, the process of helping your parents with their finances can be far less daunting. Don’t be afraid to ask for help and advice in this time of need.
Discussing retirement communities, health issues, and long-term care can trigger negative emotions and strain relationships between adult children and their aging parents. Both parties know that aging is a reality, but talking about it requires tact. Our tips for positive communication will help, regardless of the retirement living plans you need to discuss. A calm, well-planned talk will make the transition easier for you and your loved ones.
Break the Discussion into Steps
Don’t wait for a health crisis or other emergency to talk about long-term care. Look for opportunities to have small discussions in everyday life. Ask your loved ones questions about the plans they have considered, where they would like to live, and other details. Talk about retirement living often to keep your information up to date. Have discussions during calm times, not stressful ones like the holidays.
Speak With Respect and Empathy
Adult children want their parents and other loved ones to stay safe. Sometimes, though, that worry comes across as anger. Speak to your loved ones with the respect they deserve. Understand that they feel they are losing their independence and control. Empathize and do not insist that your plans are the only right ones. Give your loved ones ample time to think about options.
Value Their Independence
Many seniors believe that long-term care means an inevitable transition to a nursing home. Assure them that this isn’t the case. You may be able to use in-home care, depending on their independence levels, health, financial status, and other factors. Do what you can to make their home more accessible. Involve your loved ones in the process of vetting caregivers and training them to meet their needs.
Don’t Forget Emotional Needs
Even independent seniors can still feel alone. Help your loved ones maintain an active life and consistent emotional contact. Arrange transportation to favorite activities, and ask which new ones they’d like to pursue. Look for senior get-togethers in your area, perhaps at a community center, library, or a place of worship. Teach your loved ones how to use a cell phone, tablet, or Skype to stay in touch with out-of-town family and friends.
Is a Life Plan Community Right for Your Aging Parent?
It’s not easy helping aging parents with life transitions. Many times, parents resist change, putting adult children in challenging positions of providing care and guidance for their parents’ future. How do you know when it’s time to look for alternative living situations? And how do you know if a life plan community is the right choice?
A life plan community provides:
- Multiple levels of care in a single destination
- A focus on active lifestyle habits
- An emphasis on personal and social responsibility
Residents live in attractive apartments, or villas. Services and amenities that are included in many communities, such as housekeeping, maintenance, and grounds keeping, allow residents to pursue activities in their lives that otherwise can be pushed aside due to obligations of home ownership.
A variety of recreational and entertaining activities encourage socialization and leisure. Residents can sign up for a fitness class, watch a movie in the indoor theater, or sit down to a gourmet meal.
Personal and social responsibility is promoted through opportunities to give back. Residents can participate in charitable outreaches that benefit schools, shelters, and clinics. For example, golf tournaments may be held to raise money for the local soup kitchen.
A full range of health services is also available on site, from assisted living and rehabilitation to long-term care. Residents enjoy peace of mind, knowing they’re surrounded by healthcare professionals, loving friends, and devoted staff. Adult children also enjoy peace of mind in knowing that their parents are well taken care of.
Life plan communities reduce the reliance that aging parents have on government aid. In fact, most facilities offer a full of refund the entrance fee if parents aren’t happy within a certain period of time. This reassures adult children that the communities are invested in the health and well-being of the residents.
- A focus on health and wellness
- Planned social activities
- Different levels of care for spouses (while ensuring spouses can still live together)
- Alleviating concerns of loved ones
It’s normal for adult children to be concerned about aging parents’ needs, especially for those who live far away. Moving into a life plan community provides aging parents with a high level of independence and specialized attention while also assuring loved ones that healthcare needs will be met.
Contact Wesley Woods at New Albany to learn more about the community.
For more information, please call (614) 656-4100.
What is a Life Plan Community?
The Baby Boomer generation has done things in unique ways their entire lives. Now, that attitude is influencing the retirement community landscape as they look for senior living arrangements. This has given rise to the life plan community, a more active, vibrant, and holistic approach to senior living. The focus has changed from passive care to more active living and planning.
The term “life plan community” came from a research team that found seniors’ interest in retirement communities was waning. They found that retirees didn’t like the old term – continuing care retirement community – and dreaded what they had to offer. This led to an extensive survey of the desires of seniors and what they want from retirement living. Thus, the concept of a life plan community was born.
Keeping Seniors Active
With life plan communities, gone are the days of formal dining rooms, bridge games, and shuffleboard. People are expecting more out of retirement than ever before, and the concept of a life plan community accommodates those expectations. The idea behind this kind of retirement living is a focus on keeping an active, independent lifestyle. Where once a retirement community might offer arts and crafts time followed by an early dinner buffet, a life plan community might offer foreign language classes, archery lessons, and wine tastings. The intent is to give seniors the freedom to grow and allow them access to meaningful activities.
Giving Back to the Community
Another unique aspect of what makes life plan communities different is a focus on community involvement. Giving seniors easy avenues to volunteer opportunities and social responsibility is a vital part of this type of retirement community. Today’s seniors are much more socially conscious than their predecessors. In a life plan community, residents are encouraged to become a vital part of their surrounding population, lending their experience and wisdom where they can. They may offer transportation to volunteer sites, organize community groups, or allow meetings with the population-at-large to be organized. This helps seniors feel more important and fulfilled, and helps keep their minds active.
A Long-Term Plan to Fit Evolving Needs
Life plan communities aren’t all about leading a more active and fulfilling lifestyle. They also allow a senior to have a solid plan in place for their retirement years. They are an investment in the future. A core concept behind this type of retirement community is a realistic and practical approach to the evolving needs of a retiree as they age. A life plan community is a home for seniors through their elder years, offering multiple levels of care on a single campus. This enables a retiree to stay in the same, familiar community as his or her abilities decline and his or her needs increase.
Seniors are more vibrant in health and spirit than ever before. They want to continue planning and living, and to be independent and active. Life plan communities offer today’s seniors a more practical and fulfilling alternative to retirement living.