How can I help my loved ones receive the best care as they age?
Health becomes a greater concern as you and your loved ones age. Stan Ingman, gerontology professor and an expert in senior health care, spends his time teaching and researching health care options and trends around the world. He says it is important for individuals to be proactive and do all they can to prepare for advanced care.
"Instead of seniors being cared for," Ingman says, "think of it as more of a joint effort where they are empowered to care for themselves in conjunction with outside help."
- Start the conversation early for a greater likelihood that a plan will be in place when it is needed.
- Assess needs because giving your loved ones too much health care, such as an unneeded stay in a retirement facility, can be as detrimental as providing too little care.
- Don't take away their independence, if they are able to complete tasks. Provide support when needed, like with medication distribution or transportation, and encourage their use of tools like a grabber, right, to continue living independently.
- Gain insight and advice from friends, educators and doctors taking care of your loved ones. Consider talking with someone who specializes in planning long-term coordinated health care.
- Research and make sure that the choices regarding medical care, residence and end of life arrangements meet your personal quality standards.
- Notice warning signs such as a chronic illness or frequent trips to the hospital, which indicate long-term care is likely ahead. Memory loss or decreased motor skills also signal the need for more health care to come.
- Make coordinated care a priority and have someone responsible for ensuring your loved ones' doctors work in concert.