Right now I’m aware of several neighbors dealing with the sudden health crises of aging loved ones.
Once the short-term crisis is dealt with, they will have to decide where to turn next.
I have seen queries about these types of choices on Nextdoor. And while I love Nextdoor for restaurant recommendations and learning about wild animal sightings or local robberies, I get a bit concerned when subscribers seek recommendations for critical personal support at a time of need.
Most respondents on Nextdoor are well-intentioned, but at the same time their experience may not be the thing your loved one needs. Just as we generally would not ask neighbors to provide advice on a medical issue, what you do and where you go after a loved one’s health crisis can best be served by talking to experts
It’s understandable that people are turning to their neighbor network for help. Adult children or relatives helping to care for a loved one are often confronted with more choices than answers and often with limited time to make decisions.
If my loved one is not ready to go home after a hospital stay, can I choose the skilled nursing facility they go to? From the long list the discharge planner gave me, what home care agency is best?
Where do I get the medical equipment my loved one needs?
My loved one has been diagnosed with dementia; where do I begin?
In most cases these choices are unique to your loved one’s needs and circumstances. For example, when it comes to medical services, individuals may have different insurance plans that cover different providers at different rates.
Another reason to use a trusted resource is that often people don’t know what they don’t know. In other words, the question that you didn’t know to ask may be the exact information you need.
Many people are unaware that equipment like a transport wheelchair or a walker can sometimes be acquired for free from a durable medical equipment lending program. You might end up paying out of pocket for something that you could receive at no cost if only you knew about that resource.
Agencies like Senior Concerns, the Alzheimer’s Association and our local Area Agency on Aging have helped thousands of families that are caring for an aging loved one after a health crisis. Their breadth and depth of experience enables them to suggest the right products or services for your loved one’s needs.
These agencies also know how to evaluate a home care agency or assisted-living facility; they can show you skilled nursing facility ratings, and they can help you to access care for the caregiver.
The agencies sometimes have grants available to help provide some services for free.
Every post-crisis health situation is unique, and a response should be customized. Senior Concerns offers an in-home geriatric assessment program that features a professional coming to your home to evaluate the situation and give recommendations on safety and care needs.
Through years of experience and a strong network of connections, these agencies know about other community resources that may fit your loved one’s needs. Services like hearing care and low-vision resources, support groups, medical transport, organizations that will help with minor repairs and yardwork, mental health services and hospice support are all in their Rolodex.
Each of these organizations try to practice a “no-wrong-door” policy, meaning that if they do not provide the service you need, they will do a warm handoff to an agency that does. That way individuals can get answers to many questions from one phone call.
A loved one’s health crisis is full of choices. Receiving expert advice before you make decisions on their care is the loving and smart choice to make.