Amie Clark, co-founder and frequent contributor to TheSeniorList.com, has had the privledge of working with seniors throughout her social work career in the areas of senior housing and care coordination.
Here she discusses some of her favorite things about TheSeniorList.com and shares ideas on navigating the process of finding long-term care for seniors. Read on:
Tell us about The Senior List. What spurred you to create the site?
The Senior List was created to help families and caregivers navigate the issues and challenges of senior care. We explore everything from Alzheimer's/dementia, medical alert systems, tech for the home, caregiving tips, senior discounts, senior housing and many other boomer/senior related topics.
What have been some of your favorite Senior List-related finds?
I love discovering new technology and seeing how it has been adapted to the senior care world. My most favorite recent find is the Joy For All Cat by Hasbro. It's an animatronic cat that is very life-like and responsive to touch. It's great for those with mid-late stage dementia who could be comforted by a cat who purrs, meows and cuddles (without the litterbox). My kids also get a great deal of giggles from it, so it's a win-win in my house.
What have been some of the most important lessons you've learned about helping seniors find housing as their ability to live independently diminishes?
I worked as a senior placement specialist for 12 years and my takeaway from that experience is this: Do NOT wait until a crisis to start the search for senior housing. Making decisions under pressure is never a good idea, and certainly not in this case. I urge families to start the research early so that if/when the time comes, the groundwork has been done and the process will be much less laborious. If a loved one is still living independently at home, but starts to need some assistance, don't be afraid to talk to them about it. Think about any safeguards and extra assistance that can be put in place to help them remain SAFELY in the home.
What would you love to change about how seniors are cared for in the U.S.?
So many things, but personally, I'd start with Medicare and bridge the gap of coverage. Medicare doesn't cover any long-term care, so people are left to pay for senior housing out of their own pockets to the tune of $3,000-$6,000/ month for assisted living, as an example. For those who can't afford these prices, Medicaid eventually kicks in, which is funded by tax dollars. I'd like to see more coverage for people to stay in their own homes. Whether it be in-home care, sensors to detect falls or telehealth solutions (to name a few), I personally believe we would save money at the state and federal level by helping seniors remain in their homes versus paying for assisted living and nursing facilities as the default approach.
What are the most interesting senior care trends you are following right now?
I have had my eye on co-housing and shared housing for some time. Due to the high cost of senior care, I believe the trends we are seeing where people (especially older women) share the costs of housing and care will continue to rise. There is also a movement toward purposeful planning within communities to care for those who will need assistance in the future. I believe these coordinated networks will continue to rise in number. One great example is Eastside Village PDX if you want to check out this model.
What are the benefits of in-home care for seniors?
Since most seniors want to remain at home as long as possible, in-home care can be the solution for honoring a loved one's wishes. In addition, adding another set of eyes in the home, increased opportunities for socialization and personal support will only improve the quality of life, especially if a senior lives alone at home.
How would you recommend seniors and their families go about searching for reliable, trustworthy in-home care providers?
I recommend interviewing two to three care providers before making a decision (again, not waiting for a crisis). I would also weigh the pros and cons of using an in-home agency versus a caregiver registry versus hiring a caregiver privately. Each has it's own advantages and disadvantages.
What questions should seniors and families make sure to ask potential in-home care providers?
Find out the costs, on-call status and procedures for covering shifts if a caregiver is ill. If possible, I also recommend that the scheduler or care coordinator meet the prospective client in order to have a good sense of personalities. I would also understand what limits the care provider has - can they administer medications, accommodate one or two person transfers and night care? These may not apply to your loved one now, but could easily pop up in the future.
What types of questions or considerations should seniors be making in regards to their housing and care as they age?
People need to think about geography, not just in terms of city and state, but specific areas that are accessible and walkable. Family and support networks also need to be considered in relation to the ease of visiting for them. It's also important to consider lifestyles and how much are people willing to adapt. Dining hours, pet/smoking policies and visiting hours are some of the "pesky" details that get overlooked until after a move has happened. I offer a free checklist on The Senior List for what to look for in senior housing.
What headlines do you think boomers and seniors should be following today? Why?
I think most older adults are already tuned into the Social Security and Medicare headlines, but I think it's important for people to understand what is and is not covered when it comes to their Medicare benefits. I find that many people think that long-term care is covered by Medicare and are devastated when they find out it is not. Additionally, I think it's important to keep abreast of any developments in their own community about resources and senior-focused companies that may be helpful in the future.
Looking for in-home care for your loved one? Contact First Choice In-Home Care today.