Considerations for Additional Care Needs: What Questions Do I Ask?

TMZO Seni Dementia MapSubmitted by Suzi Fox
Regional Sales Manager
TZMO USA Inc. – Seni

There may be certain seasons in life when we find ourselves fumbling, frantic and filled with anxiety as we realize that our parents need additional care. In the world of senior options, the language may be foreign to us, the terminology can be confusing, and yet the players are critical to choosing the proper care.

Caregiving Resources: Getting Started

Home care agencies, case managers, senior living communities, memory care, and long-term care options can be overwhelming! How do we know the right choice for our loved one? Where do we turn and who do we trust?

A good starting point is to take a whirl on the website. If you are looking for a nursing home for your loved one, you may want to seek out the page that says, “Find Care Providers Near You.” Then do a search by zip code for the cities you are contemplating.

This step alone will help you find lots of information related to nursing homes and their operating processes. Personally, I would encourage people to look at a nursing home community that has a four-star or five-star rating. You will be able to view inspection reports and learn if a community has been fined in the past.

Photo by Towfiqu barbhuiya on Unsplash

If they have been fined, you can learn the reason why. While there are many communities that are beautiful on the outside and the care provided to their residents is equally as beautiful on the inside, unfortunately there are communities that have consistent patterns of operating with unhealthy practices where golden standards are not being met.

Understanding and viewing detailed data on the website can help save you and your loved one a lot of grief and potential future concerns.

See the Community Yourself

Whether you are seeking a nursing home, an assisted living community, or a memory care community, I would encourage you to make an appointment to view the community and bring a list of well thought out questions.

Upon entering the property, what do you notice?

  • Is it clean?
  • Does it smell nice?
  • Are the staff members welcoming and friendly?
  • Do you see residents mingling and if so, do they appear to be happy?

If your first impression is a good one and you decide to tour the community, please take the additional time to meet with the community staff members who will be involved in the care of your loved one.  Having the experience of going through this process firsthand, I have provided a list of questions below that I would recommend asking.

Don’t be intimidated. You are questioning them as much as they are interviewing you! A mutual good fit for both parties is important when looking for a new home.

Ask for 3 referrals from families who currently have a loved one living there or have had a loved one living there within the past year.

It is very important to consider having a law firm look over the contracts they may provide before you sign anything.  As most will agree, finding a new home is an important life-changing event and should be treated with kid gloves.

Questions to Ask as Part of Your Community Visit

  1. Photo by Towfiqu barbhuiya on Unsplash

    What are the meal options? If my loved one has the inability to swallow, does your community offer special meal options that are appealing?

  2. What activities are planned on a daily, weekly, and monthly basis? Make note if there are both activities one on one, small group options, or large group activities and think about how your loved one would fit in from a social perspective.
  3. Are there rules for a friend or family member to take their loved one for a day trip to shop or enjoy a family event off the premises?
  4. How does my loved one get to be outdoors? Are there caregivers that will take your parent for a walk to enjoy fresh air and sunshine? How often will they be taken outside?  I would encourage people to ask too if their community caregivers will be near your loved one when they take them outside or is there some type of call button system in place.
  5. Who handles the trimming of their nails, facial hair, and haircuts? Remember to find out if there are extra fees charged for any of the above, and if so, find out what the fees are currently and how often the fees for the “extras” may change.

Additional Questions Regarding Incontinence

If you are seeking placement into a new community for a loved one who is living with incontinence, the next set of questions are extremely important to discuss with the community staff.

1. Does the community supply incontinence products or will you or your loved one be responsible for bringing products into the community?

If you are required to supply the incontinence products, I would recommend that you take some time to educate yourself about the importance of choosing high quality versus low-cost products that are often significantly less effective.

Let me explain.

High performing briefs and pull-ups that are fully breathable, super absorbent, have inner leak guards, and are made of soft materials will allow incontinent people to sleep undisturbed through the night.  If they sleep through the night, people wake up more alert and more engaged.  High quality products reduce the risk of negative clinical outcomes like falls, urinary tract infections, and skin rashes.  Plus, people who feel comfortable in a high performing product will have the dignity and confidence to participate in daily activities with less worry.

2. How do you handle it if my loved one is starting to isolate themselves and chooses not to participate in activities or mealtimes?

Believe it or not, for many older adults who are living with incontinence, this question sometimes ties with the question above. For example, if a community is supplying briefs and pull-ups for their residents, but perhaps the products are low cost and not effective, residents may be waking up multiple times during the evening to be changed.

Thus, they awaken in the morning tired, groggy, and with little energy. They may find it difficult to engage in conversations and social activities. A pattern unfortunately can develop, and the pattern can then become a habit. Habits are difficult to break.

3. What is your community protocol if a resident starts showing signs of depression?

We learned many things from the pandemic and one of those things is that we all need to be aware if our loved one shows signs of depression. Feeling comfortable that a community’s staff is paying attention to your loved one is important.

Home Care Agency Questions

If your family is contemplating home care services as an option to care for a loved one, there may be a different set of questions to consider. One of the best ways to find a good home care agency is to get referrals from others who are presently using them. My recommendation is to ask the home care agency for (3) client referrals that you can contact.

Specific questions to consider asking a home care agency:

  1. How do you find your caregivers?
  2. Do you meet with them personally?
  3. What skills, training and certifications do you require from your staff before sending them to a client’s home?
  4. How much time do you spend training them before they are allowed to be alone with a client?
  5. Are your caregivers certified, licensed, bonded, insured?
  6. What do your fees cover and include?
  7. Is there a 4-hour minimum or any minimum?
  8. Do you offer a Continence Care program for your clients?
  9. What protocols do you have in place when a caregiver calls in sick or is a no-show?
  10. How do you handle concerns regarding theft?

Work Together for a Successful Transition

Photo by Towfiqu barbhuiya on Unsplash

Placing a parent is not only an emotional journey for the parent but is also emotional for all the decision makers involved.  Keep in mind that you may be asking your mom or dad to give up their familiar surroundings, daily routines, activities that they enjoy, and in essence, their independence.  In some cases, they may need to prepare to sell their home.

Allowing your loved one to be in on the decision making will be key in creating a smooth transition together. Honoring all their wishes may be unrealistic but hearing them out is critical and assuring them that their desires are being heard is important.

Help your senior parents understand that the decision is not being made for them but rather with them. Tell them that this is a group effort to make sure their safety and comfort is of the utmost importance.

No one wants to feel like their life is being hijacked and taken over by their family members. The process of looking for senior living community care can take months or years, so plan accordingly and start the conversations early on.

If there is a cognitive decline, there will be more difficulty understanding the decisions that need to be made in a timely manner. Do not hesitate to be put on waiting lists ahead of when you think you may need to make a change for your parents.

When you are proactive in the care of yourself or for your loved one, you hold the keys to aging well.

TZMO Seni USA on Dementia MapSuzi Fox
TZMO USA Inc. – Seni

Suzi Fox is a Regional Sales Manager for Seni. She and Seni help people to live healthier, happier lifestyles with less worry.

She believes dignity and confidence are two of the most important gifts we can give to others.

Visit TZMO USA Inc. – Seni on Dementia Map or on their website.

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