We knew round the clock care would come some day. We had tentative plans in place. Still, we felt that the time would be somewhere in the future. Certainly not right away. Therefore, when the doctor told me she required 24/7 care, we were still shocked.
Being Ready: A tentative plan is better than no plan, but it means a lot of extra work that needs done rapidly. It would pay off to find out which agency you want to use, how much it will cost and how the shifts would be divided. It would also be wise to figure out whether or not a family member can be responsible for some of the care. In our case, that’s not possible.
Danger to Self: The suicide rate among the elderly is disproportionally high. If an elder has threatened suicide, take it seriously. Report it to the elder’s doctor and let the doctor decide how serious it is. At the very least, make sure all medications are locked and that the elder has no access to the key. It may also require a 72 hour psych hold. Having 24/7 care could, under some circumstances, be an option. Usually this requires the issue that caused the threat to be resolved.
The Cognitive Function Test: Doctors have tests to assess the level of cognitive function their patients have. The questions are usually related to things they should know, such as the year or where they are. Some might seem a little unfair; mentioning three random items and then after a few more questions have them repeat the items. The answers to all of the questions combined tell the doctor how capable the patient is, and whether or not it’s safe for the elder to continue to live alone or with minimal care.
Getting Care: Most people would prefer to remain in their own homes, and if it is feasible, it is probably for the best. The problem is it’s also expensive. A week of in-home care can be the same amount as a month at a board and care facility. It definitely is in our case.
If you choose in-home care and you don’t live with the elder, it’s a good idea to get to know the people taking care of your elder. This way, you can be certain that the “chemistry” is right between them. It’s not the fault of the caregiver if the person being cared for doesn’t get along with them. It is your responsibility to make necessary changes to the staff if that should occur.
Setting up and maintaining 24/7 care in the home is time consuming at first, and it is very expensive. In our case, it means that our elder is happy, and will be comfortable. That is of primary importance.