If you feel overwhelmed by the seemingly endless options for healthcare and caregiving, you are not alone. Many times, families don’t have much time to consider all of the available options. That is why it is so helpful to have experts who can help you make informed decisions about the needs of your loved one.
Here are four important points to think about when comparing caregiver services:
If your loved one needs to relocate, it’s important to select services that keep your loved one connected to their routine. You want to find a facility that is close to doctors, church, a favorite hair salon or restaurant, family, and friends. For seniors, experts say that a lack of social support and depression is linked to decreased cognitive ability, poor cardiovascular functions, and even a weakened immune system. Having a variety of positive social supports can contribute to psychological and physical wellness of elderly individuals. “The effects of family members visiting patients regularly is immediate,” says Amanda Rydalch, licensed social worker at Parke View Rehabilitation & Care Center. “Our patients who enjoy regular contact with loved ones are less anxious and depressed, and they are more social and stay more emotionally engaged.”
Family members shouldn’t select a facility that makes it difficult for them to visit loved ones regularly. With expert advice, they can find the ideal facility that is close to social support, provides needed care, and fits the family’s financial parameters.
2. Level of needed care
Along with the physical needs, we need to remember that our loved one has emotional needs that accompany this change. “We typically look at home care as the first option,” said Chris Guttierez, executive director at So Cal Seniors. “Often we find individuals that just need a little extra help.” Services that provide assistance in housecleaning or food preparation can be arranged and provide a solution. “People like to be home,” said Guttierez. “We like our independence. We want to be around their dog or cat and enjoy their own food and be surrounded by things we know.”
But other factors can make the decision to relocate more pronounced. For example, medication is a big factor. “Your loved one may be over medicating or not taking properly his or her medications. That is where we have to recognize the potential dangers of living alone and consider any early signs of dementia,” said Guttierez. In some cases, assisted living can still offer medication management services. But when your loved one becomes a danger to herself or the environment, it’s time to talk about skilled nursing home.
You know what they say, “Location, location location,” and it’s no different when looking for a caregiving facility. Guttierez says the average monthly cost for an Orange County-area apartment with assisted living services and meals is around $3000. Understanding the qualifying guidelines for government programs is an important step to help offset costs, and Chris has helped many families better understand the financial parameters of those grants.
Knowing the area can also be a big money saver. So when you work with a resource that is familiar with the industry — like So Cal Seniors, for example — they can find a facility that is a few miles from the desired location yet is much more affordable.
Shared rooms is another easy way to cut costs. Whereas depression is common among seniors, having a roommate provides beneficial socialization for your loved one. “It’s great to have a friend, sometimes,” said Guttierez. “We often see the advantages in assisted living and nursing homes where companionship helps alleviate feelings of isolation.”
4. Realize that quantity doesn’t always mean quality
There are many online referral sites offering virtually hundreds of facilities. But for Chris, one or two well-matched referrals offer more value to a family than volumes of referrals that don’t. He works closely with all of the senior housing providers throughout the area, so he knows when a good match is close at-hand. “My goal is to find a facility a great resident,” said Chris, who is compensated by the facility for his services. Chris understands that this experience requires a bit of hand holding and a personal, human touch. “This is a service that you only want to use one time,” he said. “So we try very hard to get it right the first time.”
For more information on what services Chris Guttierez and So Cal Seniors can provide for your family, please call 1-866-MYSENIOR or visit: www.socalseniors.com.
A version of this article was published by Good Day Orange County. It has been republished here with permission.