At age 85, Susan’s mother, Eva, was doing well living on her own, and she was still very independent. She didn’t drive at night anymore, but she made it to her church services every Sunday morning and to her volunteer job at the local food bank every Friday. Susan worked full-time and lived an hour away, but she visited her mother at least once a week, usually taking her out to lunch on the weekend. Her two brothers and their families lived out of state but they visited on occasion as well. Life was going along without much drama.
That came to an end when Susan got the phone call from the hospital one evening. Her mother had slipped on a wet tile and fallen in the bathroom, and had been knocked unconscious for a bit. When she’d awakened, she had the presence of mind to press her medical alert button, and an ambulance was summoned to take her to the emergency department.
It turned out that Susan’s mother had a concussion, a fractured arm and bruising on her leg. She stayed overnight in the hospital for observation, as she seemed confused and there was concern about the concussion. When she was ready for discharge, her arm in a cast, it was clear to Susan that her mother would need a lot of help when she was back at home. She was having trouble keeping her balance, but she couldn’t use a walker with her immobilized arm. Obviously she couldn’t drive anymore either.
“At your mother’s age, it will take longer for her arm to heal,” the social worker at the hospital said. “I can give you recommendations for home care agencies in the area.”
The problem was, Susan wasn’t sure where to begin and she had little time to screen the home care providers. Her brothers living out of state weren’t a lot of help either. Moreover she wasn’t even sure how much assistance her mother would require, and she was nervous about her mother going home at all. What if she fell again? She was so unsteady on her feet. Then Susan remembered that one of her friends had hired a care manager for her aging father. Her friend had been very pleased with her services.
Susan got the care manager’s contact information, and set up the initial appointment at her mother’s house, the day she came home from the hospital. Donna, the care manager, was an experienced professional who developed an easy rapport with Eva. She did a thorough assessment and recommended a reputable home care agency to assist Eva with bathing, meals, and household tasks while her arm healed. To Susan’s relief, Donna also met with the home health aide sent by the agency and continued to monitor her mother’s care. She also accompanied Eva to her doctor appointments and made sure she was taking her prescription medications correctly.
Though Eva’s arm eventually healed, she had become much more frail and forgetful. She had a bout with the flu that sent her to the hospital again for several days, and she returned home even weaker. Soon after, Donna met with Susan and her brothers to talk about short and long term plans for their mother. Even with the home health aide coming in daily, Donna was concerned that Eva’s health and mobility were deteriorating. Her living alone at home was not likely to be safe for her in the near future. Eva had long-term care insurance that covered assisted living, and Donna encouraged the family to explore this option sooner rather than later.
Her knowledge and calm guidance reassured Susan and her brothers. They had little experience with assisted living facilities, but Donna located an appropriate facility and arranged for them all to have a tour. Even Eva seemed less resistant than she first was at the idea of moving. When a bed opened up, the family decided it was time.
Are you a caregiver worried about an aging loved one or unsure of where to turn? The above is just an example of how a care manager can be your advocate and guide you and your family through every step of the aging journey. An experienced professional at your side can help you make the best decisions and ensure that your loved one gets the best care possible.