I wrote earlier this week about how difficult it can be adjusting to a senior living community and being the old new kid on the block. As a geriatric care manager, families often turn to me for help with this issue so I want to share with you the professional resources I turn to for help with my clients who are struggling with a transition.
My “go to” resources to help my clients struggling with a transition (drum roll please) are Occupational Therapy and Counselling. By the way, both of these resources can be accessed under Medicare B with the cost of the co-payment so both are resources worth knowing about and exploring…
Occupational Therapy: I refer to an Occupational Therapist (OT) when I notice my client has some physical limitations that are interfering with their independence. Examples would be limited ability to use the phone, dress themselves or pour a glass of milk. I also refer to an OT when I suspect memory or cognition may be a factor in the transition. Perhaps your mom or dad are really struggling to reorient themselves to their new community.
An OT, can assess your aging parent and identify limitations and create a care plan to optimize functioning in those areas. They can also assist with adaptive equipment, room arrangement, cabinet organizing, orientation strategies and exercises designed to assist with increasing strength and mobility. The bottom line is an OT will create a care plan this is designed to maximize your aging parent’s independence. This can help with a new sense of well-being and confidence which naturally would make the transition a little easier!
Finding resources: ask the administrator of your senior living community, physician, local elder care network directory, yellow pages (if you can find one) or google: occupational therapist, Medicare B, outpatient, name of your city.
Counselor or Psychologist: I refer to a licensed clinical social worker (L.C.S.W) or psychologist (PhD) for counselling when my clients are exhibiting signs and symptoms that may be related to depression or intense anxiety about their move. I may even arrange this resource before the move if there is social history of mental illness, depression or difficulty with transitions. For some older adults and families, this can be a tough sell because of the stigmatization attached to mental health but trust me when I tell you it can make a world of difference for your aging parent to work with a counselor to help with this transition.
Finding resources: ask the administrator of your senior living community, family, friends, physician, local elder care network directory, yellow pages (if you can find one) or google: social worker, counselor or psychologist, Medicare B, name of your city.
Five Keys to Success
1) Physician’s order; both are Medicare B benefits and will require a physician to sign off and provide the order. Make an appointment for your mom or dad and attend that appointment!
2) Communication; don’t just ask the doctor for the order. Provide information that will lead them to understand the service is needed. i.e. “dad is having a difficult time getting dressed ” or “mom is tearful and isolating herself since the move”.
3) Positive spin; both are short-term disciplines so encourage your aging parent to be open to the help as it may just keep them in their apartment versus a nursing home (tough love).
4) Utilize both; you could certainly utilize both these disciplines at the same time. Two disciplines are better than one. The focus is very different so why not?
5) Flexibility; typically an OT can come to the senior living community but not always. You may have to arrange transportation to a counselor. Either way, flexibility will be needed.
Don’t hesitate to ask for help from either of these resources if your aging parent is struggling with their transition to a senior living apartment. A clarity session with me may help as well; during a clarity session we can strategize specific interventions for your aging parent and I can help you define which resources will be the best for you and your aging parent.
A little intervention early can make a BIG difference…