Claire’s mother had been calling more and more often, forgetting when appointments were scheduled, where she parked her car, if she had taken her medications or not. Claire had been taking on more and more tasks for her mom since she fell and the recovery process looked so different than what she expected. When they went for a follow-up appointment to see how she was healing, Claire finally got up the courage to ask the doctor about the changes she had been seeing in her mom.
A few weeks later, the results came back that Claire’s mother had Alzheimer’s. The role reversal felt complete, the child had become the parent and the parent had become the child. Claire felt overwhelmed, and unprepared for the level of responsibility she now had to see to her mother’s care. How would she help her mother navigate this disease and the changes in her life? Could she afford to quit her job to become her caregiver? Where could she find help?
That is when Claire decided to hire, Sound Options, a geriatric care management firm in the Puget Sound. The care manager came out and did a neutral assessment of Claire’s mother and her home environment and created a plan of care that would allow her to safely stay in her home and receive appropriate care. “We are always looking for the options that are going to ensure safety, while giving our clients and their families the highest quality of life possible,” the care manager said.
Professional geriatric care managers, while relatively new players in the health care field, are revolutionizing the way we think about dementia care. They are providing families an alternative to the institutionalized care that is burned in the memory of many individuals in the baby boomer generation.
When there is a RN or MSW eldercare expert at the helm, it really takes the pressure off of the adult children and loved ones to “know it all”. They can often feel that between paying bills, managing a crisis, laundry, and medications, there isn’t time to be family or process what is going on. By letting the professionals coordinate and provide the care, families get to be family and are allowed to be present to what is happening in their lives. It is really hard to put a price tag on that time and space.
Claire’s story is becoming more and more common. In fact, a quarter of adult children, mainly baby boomers, provide care to a parent. The total estimated aggregate lost wages, pension, and Social Security benefits of these caregivers of parents are nearly $3 trillion annually, according to the MetLife Mature Marketing Institute. In 2012 in Washington State alone, there were 323 thousand Alzheimer’s and dementia caregivers providing 368 million unpaid hours of care. This increased healthcare costs of the caregiver by $190 million dollars according to the Alzheimer’s Association. AARP Public Policy Institute found that half of family caregivers performed medical/nursing tasks for care recipients including managing multiple medications, providing wound care, using monitors, managing incontinence, operating special medical equipment and preparing special diets. The burden is heavy.
The care management and in-home care model of dementia care is a powerful option for families, with its professional oversight and one-on-one care in the comfort and familiarity of home. Because home care services can be scaled from a few hours a day all the way to 24 hour live-in care, it remains a viable option as the disease progresses and reduces the need to move from facility to facility as the needs change. Establishing an elite team of care managers with in-home caregivers to serve families in the Puget Sound is just one of the ways that Sound Options has been addressing the Alzheimer’s epidemic in its community. If you are looking for options in dementia care, call Sound Options at 800.628.7649. We hope fervently for a cure and until that time, we are committed to helping families get exceptional care.
Published on November 4, 2013.