Conditions of Aging: Needing Care

Apr 23rd, 2010 | By Dr Jerry D Elrod | Category: Senior Moments Blog

The focus of this column yesterday was on Taking Care, coming to the recognition that care needs may be delayed as you intentionally use good judgment in taking care of your own health and aging needs.   

Needing care, on the other hand,  offers hard moments to come to.  Admitting the need to receive care brings with it a surrendering of some independence, management of one’s own life and turning over decision making to others.  These are debilitating, at least potentially, experiences which require careful and diplomatic approaches. 

No matter the circumstances, even those in which, for the most part, there is little to no concern for the economics of the situation, the emotional, logistical and psychological affects are many and varied.  Presently, in one family I am aware of, all the adult children of the situation are confronted, along with their 94 year old father and his spouse of 85, with determining what the next steps will be for identifying and agreeing to a “final resting place.”  This is not to speak of death.  It is to deal with the time leading up to death.  Where do I want to be when I die?  Receiving care is the time when the issues of a final settling of place and awareness of what making that choice means.

Sometimes sentiment drives such a decision.  At other times health issues may.  In this case, it is a purely logistical and sentimental choice.  There are no major health issues at the moment.  But at the moment, when such will be the case, then the concern is to be in the place where care can be appropriately and helpfully received and death can be greeted.  No long distance air flight just for burial, no prevention from being where one wants to be.  All of that will have been handled. 

Needing Care means needing to be informed, realistic and up front about all the issues affecting the individual who is ready to make his/her final choices.  Now, to be sure, those choices may extend into several years.  This is why the decision and homework leading to the decision is all the more important.  Recognizing that choosing a comfortable place to live in an environment that one will find tolerable and commodious is extremely crucial.  Thinking it through will likely mean spending a few days and nights in the area; checking out available medical facilities, being aware of the needs one will likely require as time goes by.  If the community meets the criteria, what other issues are there to be taken into account.  How far are you from family?  Will that matter?  How are you with issues of mobility?  If both spouses are still active, are there means and ways for accomodating activity outside the home?  If living in a facility, will it offer care as/if physical disabilities become an issue.  How have you gone about an inventory of all the issues that are likely to arise?  How objective are you and family able to be in dealing those issues?  Have all legal, financial and other implications, e.g. power of attorney, been addressed? 

Needing Care is something most seniors will eventually encounter.  The extent of that care will vary, of course.  But the need for counsel, literal hands on assistance, permission for decision making, help walking, eating, preparing oneself for day to day existence will become a necessity.  My 90 year old mother does quite well for herself in an assisted living facility.  The emphasis here is on assisted.

She does quite well for herself.  Her daily hygiene needs are met, food is prepared and available 3 times a day.  She uses a walker, but navigates in taking her daily walks and staying upright. She has a male friend who visits her several times a week and they go out to lunch with regularity.  She has no financial concerns that need occupy her.  She arranged for long term care insurance some time ago. She came to the moment when Needing Care had to be translated into  Receiving Care. She made that transition and it has been a priority which she receives and lives with quite comfortably and satisfactorily. 

Tomorrow: we will focus on Receiving Care.



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