Part 2 of a Series: When is it Time to Call Hospice?

It is one of the most difficult decisions a family can make: deciding that it is time to call hospice to care for an ailing loved one. But it also can be one of the best decisions because it allows your loved one to be as comfortable as possible, enjoying friends and family, as their life journey comes to an end. Because it’s a difficult issue to talk about – and even harder decision to make – many families wait until the end is very close before calling hospice. These late decisions can make it harder for a hospice team to achieve its goals of controlling symptoms, such as pain and breathing difficulties, and helping with emotional closure. During my 20 years as the owner/operator of Country Home Assisted Living in Parker, Colorado, I have noticed that it is usually best to call in hospice when medical treatments or interventions no longer work or when the side effects outweigh the benefits. But not every person is the same. For example, it can be fairly easy to make that decision when a terminal illness is involved. It’s not so easy to make that decision when an ailing loved one tells you she just doesn’t feel good. In this second part of my three-part series, I pull from my experiences at Country Home Assisted Living to come up with some indicators to help you know if it is time to call hospice. They include: Frequent infections. Frequent falls caused by disorientation or loss of mobility. Repeat trips to a hospital’s emergency room. Unrelieved pain that becomes more irritating as it never...

Part 1 of a Series: What is Hospice?

There are many misconceptions about hospice, so today I am beginning a three-part series to explain hospice and help family members recognize when the time is right to call for this assistance. First, let’s define hospice and debunk the big misconception that many people have. First and foremost, hospice is not a place. Hospice is actually a specialized type of medical care the focuses on comfort during the end of life. Hospice care is usually provided at a location that the family chooses, whether it’s the family’s home, an assisted living facility where the patient already lives (like Country Home Assisted Living in Parker, Colorado) or a hospice company’s care center. To qualify for hospice, a physician must determine that a person’s life expectancy is six months or less. In most cases, previously-provided medical treatments are no longer working and may actually be prolonging the suffering. When put on hospice, individuals must stop all of the curative treatments that they had been receiving. The specialist doctors and surgeons would be out of the picture. The care moves to a team of professionals who are trained in comfort care, pain relief and psychosocial support. That team could include physicians, registered nurses, hospice aides, social workers, religious representatives and others. They are there to make sure the needs of the patient — as well as the family, friends and caregivers – are met. A care plan is created with input from the family and patient to determine the frequency of visits needed by the doctor, nurse and others on the hospice team. The emotional and spiritual aspects are also addressed with...

Falls Can Take a Toll on the Elderly

Recognizing the Risk and Alleviating Dangers are First Step The risk of falls becomes greater as we age. In fact, recent statistics indicate that one in three elderly persons fall each year. And those falls are not without consequences. They account for 87 percent of all fractures in people who are at least 65 years old. These falls and fractures can lead to a downward spiral that can shorten one’s life. As the owner of an assisted living facility in Parker, Colorado, I am diligent about doing what I can to reduce the risk for my residents. Whether you have an elderly loved one living with you, in a facility like Country Home Assisted Living or a retirement community, you should realize that your loved one is probably going to be a fall risk at some point. With that realization, it is then a good time to make a concerted effort to reduce the fall risk that surrounds your loved one. Here are some good ways to get started: Keep pathways clear. Oxygen tubing and electrical cords are easy to trip on. Try to route them away from pathways. Remove obstacles and clutter that can get in the way. Keep a clear path around the bed. Remove throw rugs. Or, at the very least, fasten throw rugs to the floor with double-sided tape. Make sure your elderly loved one wears good footwear that has a tread on the bottom. Avoid shoes with heals. Gripper socks are great for the nighttime. Wipe up spills immediately. Make sure that furniture is stable and doesn’t tilt when leaned upon. If you have...

Not All Assisted Living Facilities Accept Medicaid

Not all assisted living facilities are created equal – especially when it comes to getting help from Medicaid to pay for assisted living services. In fact, not every assisted living community accepts Medicaid.  That’s just one reason why it’s so important to do your research when looking for an assisted living facility for your aging parents or elderly loved ones. At Country Home Assisted Living in Parker, Colorado, we accept Medicaid. Because we do this, we are licensed by the state and are subject to periodic inspections to make sure we meet federal standards. We gladly do this because we want to provide care for those members of the elderly Colorado population who may not have a lot of money to spend on fancy facilities. That doesn’t mean the care is subpar. In fact, the care your loved ones receive at Country Home Assisted Living may actually be better because we are small and very attentive to all of our residents. We have two caregivers for our eight residents, offering a one-to-four ratio. If you are reviewing your options to pay for assisted living services, I am a good one to consult. As the owner of Country Home for 20 years, I accept both Medicaid and private pay residents. In my years of experience, I have noticed that Medicaid may not be the best funding source for every family’s assisted living needs. As I mentioned, not every assisted living facility is willing to accept the Medicaid reimbursement rates. Also, many facilities that accept Medicaid have waiting lists, so a room might not be available when you need it. All...

Help in Choosing an Assisted Living Facility

I said in a recent blog that you should do your homework before beginning a discussion about assisted living with your elderly loved ones. I recommended that you research the various living alternatives and facilities so that you will be able to answer questions and have a productive conversation. So this month, let’s look at the various alternatives and review questions you should ask at each facility. There are all types of facilities available these days. They range from retirement communities that take away the burden of managing a home to full-service assisted living facilities that provide caregiver assistance, medication management, food, entertainment and transportation. Some are huge apartment-type dwellings that are operated by corporations and often require you to fill out loads of paperwork or jump through hoops to make any changes in the care that is provided. Others, like Country Home Assisted Living in western Elbert County, are smaller operations with a limited number of residents that provide a home-like setting in a pleasant neighborhood. And, of course, there’s everything in between those two options. As the owner of Country Home Assisted Living for about 18 years, I would like to explain the advantages of our home in a country setting. As a smaller facility, we tend to have an attentive staff that will notice any changes in a resident’s health, mood, urinary functions, eating habits, etc., much sooner than a larger facility where nursing care is spread across many more people. At my eight-bed assisted living facility just outside Parker, I take prompt action, calling a family member or doctor, whatever is necessary, to keep our...