How to put an emergency plan in place for the “what if?”
A stroke has no warning signs. As Wendy learned with her father, it can take a relatively healthy person and turn their life upside. Last fall, Wendy found herself in a similar situation to many caregivers when her father suffered a stroke. He suddenly went from being an independent senior at a Retirement Home not requiring much assistance to being fully dependent on other people.
“I was given a list of various Long Term Care facilities, but I had no idea what the differences were between them,” Wendy explains in a recent interview with Caroline from Solva Senior Living.
Fast forward to the spring and Wendy’s father is now living in a Long Term Care Home and she has learned a lot along the way. “He did end up in a great facility but it took some time”.
Here are some tips Wendy shared during a recent interview, on how to plan for and handle a loved one’s emergency situation.
1. Manage the relocation and don’t let it manage you. As the Power of Attorney for her father Wendy found herself making very important decisions on her fathers behalf. “Having the title of Power of Attorney, knowing that you are a caregiver, that someone’s livelihood and well being is in your hands and that you are managing their affairs and making decisions on their behalf… that is a pretty hefty weight,” Wendy shares. The decision of where her dad would move to either a retirement home or long term care was left on Wendy’s shoulders. She ultimately ensured the transition was as seamless as possible by managing the steps and staying ahead of what needed to be done.
2. You don’t have to do it alone. There is a lot of help available as Wendy learned during the process of relocation. “I needed a checklist and someone like you [Solva] that I could have as a sounding board to bounce ideas off of. What you did as well, is provide additional thinking and options I didn’t think of,” she explained.
Whether it’s help from friends or family or help from a professional service provider, either way it’s important to know when to reach out and ask. “Don’t feel you are alone. Get plugged in and get informed,” she advises.
3. Be proactive. “We need to be thinking long term and planning and informing ourselves. It is better to have information ahead of time than having to scramble.” As Wendy reflects on her experience, when her dad could no longer live at his Retirement Home she had to very quickly find a new Assisted Living home that could accommodate his needs. Looking back she hopes others can learn from this and start to plan ahead for the unexpected. “We need to pay attention to our parents. We should be thinking long term. Being present and conscious of the fact that our parents may need to go into Long Term Care and may need assisted care.” encourages Wendy. She also stresses that it’s not helpful to think that health circumstances won’t change, and being proactive is far better than reactive.
4. Be prepared for the dreaded 24 hour deadline. Like many others waiting for a bed in Long Term Care, Wendy received the phone call that one had become available for her father. What Wendy soon learned was how stressful it was to make the decision in 24 hours. Wendy says “the notion of having 24hours to decide if we were selecting the home is just not enough time and extremely stressful.” It is important to know that the deadline is 24 hours and to be 100% sure of what decision you will make before you get the call.
5. It doesn’t stop once they move in. Once Wendy’s father moved into his Long Term Care home from the beginning she had to continue to advocate and make decisions on her father’s behalf. She explains “We can’t rely just on our loved ones, they are often feeling very vulnerable, or they’re cognitively challenged and not necessarily wanting to interrupt the staff”. Wendy continues to be proactive about her dad’s care at his new home and encourages others to do the same. “I need to make sure I am constantly on top of things. I can’t rely only on the staff and the medical care team, I need to ask questions. My dad and I are on a journey with the staff of this facility”.
Throughout the time of their emergency relocation from a Retirement Home to Long Term Care Home Wendy and her father were fortunate, and ended up in a good situation and made the right decisions. Wendy credits her success in the journey to the assistance she received from Solva. “Solva and other organizations that you recommended are critical for the livelihood of our seniors” she explains.
“My advice to anyone is take the time now to educate yourself about the options available, what that looks like (and costs), and make a plan with your loved ones. Include the team at Solva too because they will guide you and make the whole process that little bit less stressful.”