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  • Writer's pictureBy April Sage

It’s Not Old Age. It’s Time to Take Notice

As we, or our loved ones, age, circumstances arise that can make us pause. It’s not always an apparent incident that catapults change, but more likely it’s a nagging feeling or a small persistent nuance that keeps you awake at night pondering. Is your loved one anxious about their safety? Are they losing daily items and blaming it on others? Are they not eating because they cannot open the packaging? These feelings and experiences resonate with me. I was the first to respond to many of my grandma’s emergency room calls. Even with four young children at home, I would be with her late at night, as her advocate, asking the nurses, social workers, and our family what we could do. I empathize with many children or spouses desperate for solutions, but unsure if there is a cause for concern. I’ve compiled a list of leading indicators that might confirm your suspicions. If these scenarios resonate with you, lets start discussing your loved one’s options and considering your next steps together.

  • Do you find empty pill bottles, random pills lying on the counter, or misplaced medications “saved” in places that don’t make sense?

  • Are they avoiding friends or activities they would typically never miss, such as a church, bridge, or Tuesday Tea?

  • Are there new and unexplained dents or dings on the car? Are they regularly losing their keys or getting home late from the store with no explanation?

  • Are you concerned about their hygiene? Do you regularly see them in the same clothes with unkept hair or appear dirty?

  • Do they appear frail or imbalanced from a lack of proper nutrition? Is their fridge or pantry consistently empty?

  • Are they anxious or worried about a specific concern they mention multiple times in a short period when you visit?

  • Does their beloved furry companion appear overfed or underfed? Is there evidence of neglect, such as accidents throughout the home that have not been cleaned up?

If this sounds familiar, it may be time to start the difficult conversation about moving your loved one to a short or long-term care facility. Below I’ve offered some alternative answers to some common discussions.

Scenario 1: This is my home. You can’t make me move.

While they may be fine today, safety is what you should focus on for this discussion. Split-level homes, master bedrooms and main bathrooms on the second floor, or homes built on a hill are not aging-in-place friendly. Many emergency room visits result from stairs mishaps. They can take you from mobile and independent to a wheelchair and rehab in a matter of seconds.

Scenario 2: Moving into a retirement community is expensive.

This conversation can be a significant challenge, especially if their house payment was one-third of what it costs to live in a catered living or continuing care community. Remind them that they worked hard to save for retirement and that the time has come. Wouldn’t it be nice to remove the headache of home maintenance and yard chores? One call to their financial advisor, or a meeting with me, to walk through a budgeting worksheet could ease their minds.

Scenario 3: There are too many options.

There are many options, but only a few choices are right for your loved one. With tools and professional help, we can narrow them down to a manageable, less overwhelming level. Together we will find the facility that is the closest match to the needs of your loved one.

Scenario 4: I can’t leave my beloved Fluffy.

Pets are an essential part of our families. If their furry companion is under 50 pounds, not aggressive, and has all their immunizations, it is welcome to join your loved one at many communities. Most everyone enjoys animal therapy, and your Fluffy will be very popular!

Scenario 5: I’m fine. There is nothing wrong with me.

The focus is that nothing goes wrong in the future. When loss of appetite, weakness, or cognitive challenges arise, the hope is that your loved one is in a place where they can receive help quickly. It will bring peace of mind to know that the place where your loved one stays is safe, provides needed support, has a variety of healthy and nutritious meals, and where they can be surrounded by people with similar interests.

My passion is to guide you and your family through the aging process and create a personalized extensive care plan to match them with the proper solution. If your family decides moving your loved one is the right direction, I work with facilities and providers throughout Pierce and Thurston counties and the greater South Puget Sound region. These are personally vetted for type and quality of care. I also ensure that they are fully compliant with all state and local regulations. Each facility has a unique style and personality. By getting to know you and your family, we work closely to find the facility that is the closest match to the needs of your loved one. You don’t have to start this journey alone. Give me a call, and let’s start discussing your options together.

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