To Place or Not to Place – Part 4

Where do families often go wrong when deciding where an elderly loved one should live? We posed this question Debra King, one of the elder care coordinators at Takacs McGinnis Elder Care Law. In this final article in our four-part series, Debra addresses two more mistakes families tend to make during the process.  

Mistake #5: Not Fully Understanding the Impact of COVID

When you’re considering placement in this age of COVID, it’s important to know what questions to ask the staff members during your visit, which will most likely be a virtual tour. Most families don’t know what to ask, but elder care coordinators like Debra King do. One of the most important questions to ask has to do with access. With lockdowns the norm these days, will you be able to visit your loved one? “That’s the first think I ask when I’m guiding a family through the process,” Debra said. “How soon after a person moves in can the family visit? Unfortunately, these days the answer is usually "We don't know.”

Moving a new resident into a facility is another factor that has changed during COVID. Debra advises asking about the move-in process, including whether the family can participate in the move. “Most facilities aren’t allowing that right now,” Debra admitted. “No one comes in. No one goes out.”

Families should also ask about the facility’s COVID rates and how they handle things like testing, quarantine, and getting residents needed services? For example, if a new resident needs therapy, how will that be accomplished during quarantine? What happens if the elder is admitted to the hospital with COVID? Will they be allowed to return to the facility? “I help my clients and their families get answers to these and many other questions,” Debra said. “It helps everyone make a more informed decision.”

Mistake #6: Assuming You’ll Figure It Out on Your Own

Many families are confident that they can navigate this process without help. And, yes, you may figure it out on your own, but at what risk? At what cost? “Unless you work as an elder care coordinator for a living, you’re not going to know what to do,” Debra said. “You’re not going to know what steps to take or what order to take them in. And you’re going to be under tremendous pressure to make a decision quickly. It’s a recipe for disaster.”

The phrase “You don’t know what you don’t know” is especially applicable for families considering placement in a long-term care facility. “If you’re working on your own, you will have no objective way of knowing which facility is best for your loved one,” Debra continued. “All you’ll have to go on is their marketing brochures. Once you’ve chosen a facility, you won’t understand all the ways that payment can be handled and what benefits might be available to help offset the cost. All you’ll have is what the facility tells you, which may not be accurate, or in your best interest.”

Working with an elder care coordinator like Debra gives you access to an objective third party perspective that can help you make better decisions.

To place or not to place. It’s a deeply personal decision for every family. No two decisions will be exactly alike. Working with an elder care coordinator can make the process easier, creating more independence and dignity for older loved ones and more peace of mind for caregivers.

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