Once children are grown, they commonly move away from home. Some families stay close together, while others live relatively separate lives for many years, seeing each other during sporadic vacation times and special occasions. But generally, parents and adult children live their lives quite independent of one other.

Eventually, however, an event occurs, or a change happens, that stops the family in its tracks and demands a new approach to how they communicate and interact. This can be a serious accident, an unexpected illness, a death, or the realization that slowly, over the course of many months or even years, a family member is losing, or has lost, the ability to competently manage their own life.

Most of us want to maintain the freedom to make decisions for ourselves. So when circumstances require new and possibly unwanted changes in our lives, we can feel unsure or unprepared on how to respond. You might resist suggestions on how to handle these changes, which might include health challenges, your daily routine, or activities that you consider part of your normal day, such as driving your car. You may find it helpful when family members help you research issues, find resources and support your decision-making. However, as issues become more and more complex, they can be overwhelming or beyond the expertise of friends and family. When you are facing complex problems related to aging and health issues and need multiple services at home or referrals, professional assistance can be a lifesaver.

What to know

Contrary to what many believe, most people live and die in their own home. Here are some interesting statistics:

The percentage of older people 85-plus years living in nursing homes has actually decreased by half from 1998 (19.8%) to 2013 (10%).

Overall, the percentage of all individuals 65-plus living in nursing homes has decreased from 4.2% in 1998 to 3.5% in 2013. This is due to the increase in alternative forms of housing that provide some supportive services, but not the entire range of services provided in nursing homes.

The majority of men (71%) over 65 live with a spouse, while only 45% of women over 65 live with a spouse. These figures have not changed dramatically since 1998, when 73% of men lived with a spouse and only 41% of women did.

You don’t have to go it alone. Aging Life Care Managers are generally professional social workers, nurses or other health care professionals who have special expertise in working with older or disabled adults and their families. They can ease the burden of dealing with very taxing situations.

Who they help

An Aging Life Care Manager provides invaluable assistance to individuals and families who need help at very challenges times.

They can help you transform an overwhelming experience into one that rallies resources and helps you feel that your needs and preferences are being dealt with in the best way possible.

A care manager can prove particularly useful for people who have no families, whose family members live far away, or who have changing circumstances or complex problems that have already proven to be difficult for the family to manage without professional advice.

A care manager determines how to help you and your family by:

Exploring the physical, emotional, financial and social problems you are experiencing.

Doing an assessment of how you are functioning at home, and the help you have available to you from family, friends and neighbors.

Assessing any medical conditions you are being treated for and what your treatment consists of.

Evaluating your financial resources.

Recommending ways to improve your daily functioning.

Providing you with information on the resources and service options available to you and the costs of these options.

After the assessment

After everyone agrees on a plan, your care manager can arrange for the services you need.

Your care manager will continue to provide ongoing monitoring and reassessment as your condition changes over time.

 

This piece was submitted by Debbie Andersson, CMC, director of operations at Age at Home in Concord. Call (603) 224-6100 or visit  AgeAtHomeNH.com.