If you have an elderly loved one in a long-term care facility, you may face the challenge of being an advocate for their care and well-being. This is especially difficult if you live in a different city or state. While many seniors enjoy living at home with the help of a qualified caregiver and homecare system, there are countless others who end up in nursing homes. This does not, however, absolve family members from being a proactive advocate for their loved ones. Here are just a few ways you can be a better advocate for the seniors in your life.
1. Join care plan meetings. In every long-term care facility a staff meeting is held to review the care of each resident. The staff addresses behavioral issues, eating habits, illnesses and the like. If you can’t attend personally (or the facility does not admit family members), ask for a follow-up phone call to be updated. For seniors who live at home, caregivers can update family members using ClearCare Online’s web-based homecare system and homecare software.
2. Put care plans in writing. Discuss all care plans – including end-of-life preferences – with your loved one’s providers and make sure all relevant paperwork is filled out properly. This may include DNR, Health Care Proxy, and Living Will forms. Home care agencies have a distinct advantage with a homecare system that keeps all important documents secure and organized.
3. Ask the staff to include your loved one in activities. Many nursing home facilities are understaffed, which can lead to neglect of some residents. While basic care needs may be being met, busy staff members may not always take the time to make sure all residents are involved in daily activities, such as bingo games or church services. If your senior relative receives home care, be sure the caregiver knows about his interests and hobbies. The caregiver can set daily reminders in her home care software for each activity.
4. Speak up. Never be afraid to discuss issues and concerns with the facility staff. Be respectful and don’t accuse, but share your feelings openly. If necessary, contact your county’s Office for the Aging to get the phone number for the facility’s ombudsman.
5. Arrange for home care. Many seniors are placed in nursing home facilities unnecessarily. Home care is often the better solution, so seniors can remain comfortable and independent as they age. In-home caregivers often offer more personalized care, and with a reliable homecare system or homecare software providing real-time transparency, families are reassured of quality care.
Whether your senior relatives live with you, on their own, or in a long-term care facility, it is important for you to be their advocate. Whenever possible, make routine visits on your loved one and evaluate their care. For seniors who live at home, communicate regularly with their caregivers. Use the family room in ClearCare Online’s web-based homecare software to check schedules, view contact information for the care team, and see updates on daily tasks. For more details discussing the value of a homecare system or homecare software, read our recent post Elder Abuse and Neglect Continues to Plague Our Nation’s Seniors.