Friday, April 18, 2014

Chapter 2: Weighing the Options

She wants to stay in her house.  Her preference was made clear from the time she was widowed.  She does not want to move.  But can we keep her safe and keep her well cared for in her house?

I cannot begin a discussion on options for providing care for an elderly family member without discussing the topic of elder abuse.  Per the National Center on Elder Abuse, Bureau of Justice Statistics, 5,961,568 elderly persons were abused in 2010.  That’s 9.5% of the elderly population that year.  Fifty-eight percent (58%) of these cases involved neglect – the main problem we were trying to solve.  Twelve percent involved financial exploitation – a problem we were keen to prevent.  Mom needed what little money she had to pay for her care for the rest of her life.  We didn’t want to provide any unwanted opportunity for anyone – no matter how well meaning – to shatter her financial integrity.

Family discussions on providing better care for Mom revolved around three major options.

Option 1:  Find a family member or a college couple to move in and care for Mom. 
Pros:  Free rent in exchange for care would be the least expensive option.  Mom would be able to stay in her house.
Cons:  The person/people in question would likely not be professional caregivers.  And as much as we would hope to be able to screen a potential care giver, the opportunity for this type of caregiver to commit a form of elder abuse is quite high.

Option 2:  Pay a professional caregiver
Pros:  The person or company providing the care would be trained and licensed.  There would be a legal recourse if elder abuse were detected.
Cons:  It’s very expensive.  Caregivers charge an hourly rate; rates are higher if 24-hour care is needed.

Option 3:  Assisted Living
Pros:  24 hour professional care in a setting where she would not be alone.   We were surprised to learn that the assisted living facilities we researched were actually less expensive than paying a professional caregiver in her home.
Cons:  She would have to leave her home.

After the family meeting to discuss the options, and after all our research was done, we discussed the options – including the pros and cons – with Mom directly.  We decided together than she would consider assisted living.

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