Solutions to Elder Care

iStock_VisitingElderly_10352745MediumBy Jacqueline Kreinik, R.N., M.S., CMC,
Manager, Elder Care Services
Jewish Community Services

With so many people living longer today, most of us eventually are going to be taking care of an aging relative, whether it’s a parent, spouse or other family member — if we aren’t already doing so. No matter how good our relationships with our loved ones may be, the responsibilities and stresses of care-giving can feel overwhelming, and they’re intensified when we feel we have to handle things alone.

Caregivers say they are most concerned about:

  • Safety: Will Dad fall? What if Mom can’t climb the stairs in her house any longer? Will she forget to turn off the tea kettle or oven? Should my spouse still be driving?
  • Medication: Who will reliably fill prescriptions? Is Dad managing his medications and taking them on time?
  • Navigating the health care system: Who can keep track of so many doctors’ appointments, forms to fill out, and differing advice? How do you get to the person you need to speak to?
  • Isolation: If Mom can’t drive any longer, how will she get to important  appointments and see her friends?
  • Finding resources: What alternative housing arrangements are available? When is it time to move to a facility that provides support services? How to find a reliable companion or home health care service?

The good news is that you don’t have to deal with these challenges alone. There are resources to help families.

One of the best is Elder Care (or Senior Care) Management. Many people aren’t familiar with this comprehensive service. Simply put, Elder Care Management supports older individuals in their desire to continue living in their own homes or in other settings (assisted living facilities, CCRC’s, or skilled nursing homes) with maximum independence and dignity.

A certified Elder Care Manager can become a caregiver’s best friend. When families first contact an Elder Care Manager (ECM), they learn that this professional, who is also a licensed nurse and social worker with expertise in aging, can visit their elder’s home to assess safety factors, as well as their loved one’s current physical, emotional, cognitive and social health.The ECM can then make recommendations and design a personalized plan of care.

With a wealth of expertise, knowledge and connections, an ECM can cut through red tape, navigate the health care system, coordinate medical care, and get results, saving you time and many headaches. The ECM advocates for your older relative and collaborates with the family, almost like becoming part of a team. The ECM can gather information and resources and help you make informed decisions that are right for your family.

A good Elder Care Manager is someone to lean on, someone who is always there for you. By taking many responsibilities and dilemmas off your shoulders and by helping you plan for the future, the ECM allows you to focus on your relationship with your loved one and ensure him or her the best quality of life.

If you are a caregiver who would like some support, we invite you to call an Elder Care specialist and learn more about how Elder Care Management can help you.

For more information, call Jewish Community Services, 410-466-9200.

Check out “Caring for Elders Leads to New Profession,” a profile on Jacqueline in the December issue of The Beacon>>

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Filed under Families, Healthy Living, Social Services, Women

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