Caregiver’s Journal: Finding a Provider

From time to time, we focus here on looking after caregivers,  the spouses, family members or close friends of  patients suffering from chronic, debilitating illnesses such as Alzheimer’s or dementia.  Adult day care, or elder care, can give a caregiver a much-needed temporary break from the very challenging, exhausting and isolating responsibilities of caregiving.  At the same time, using the services of an elder care provider can let that loved one receive assistance and enjoy therapeutic activities with others in a group setting.  It can truly be a win-win solution.

Are you a caregiver or do you anticipate taking on that role in the near future?  You can find local elder care services in your area by using the Department of Health and Human ServicesEldercare Locator website – just click on the link to have a look.  They will direct you to your local Area Agency on Aging (AAA), who will in turn help you find specific elder care services providers.

As you check out local elder care providers, think about what services your loved one might need and enjoy:

  • Counseling
  • Exercise
  • Socialization
  • Supervision
  • Physical therapy
  • Medical care
  • Meals
  • Management of medication
As you narrow down your choices, take into account these considerations:
  • Costs: These are often out-of-pocket, but some long-term care insurance plans cover this type of care.  
  • Hours: Do the drop-off and pick-up times work for you?  What about holiday schedules?  Weekends?
  • Location: Is it close by?  Convenient? In a safe neighborhood?
Now, check into the quality of the care:
  • Do some homework. Ask the local Area Agency on Aging if they have any information about the centers or facilities that you are considering.  Your doctor or healthcare provider may also have some ideas and information about nearby locations.  
  • Ask for references.  Get references from the facility itself; talk with as many  residents there now, and their families, as you can. And check the references thoroughly.  Really.
  • Ask questions, questions, questions.  When you first visit any center or facility, walk around everywhere and find out everything you can about the staff, their credentials and training, the services offered, the lot.  As a general guideline, the average adult care center has a staff ratio of one staff member for six patients or care recipients.  What is the ratio at the center you are visiting?  How do they keep track of this?  Who covers when staff members are ill or late for work or on holiday?  
  • Try it out yourself.  Spend a day there.  Will your loved one be okay?  It may take a bit of time for your patient to feel comfortable in a strange setting – that’s okay – but are you certain he or she will be safe and cared for with compassion and skill?
Here is another good link, to the National Adult Day Services Association site.  Have a look at their checklist.  And as always, know you are not alone or stranded as you cope with the complex demands of ill or aging loved ones.  There are support communities and terrific resources online, at churches and temples, even at some workplaces.  Let others know what you are facing.  Help is there – just ask.
Special thanks to Paul Y. Takahashi, MD

2 responses to “Caregiver’s Journal: Finding a Provider

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  2. Pingback: 35 Questions to Ask Your Aging Parents…a tool in assessing their needs « Elder Advocates

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