The COVID-19 pandemic has taken a toll on so many people, from business owners to various employee groups, but an often unseen and overlooked population segment is the caregiver. Taking care of an aging senior or disabled loved one is already stressful outside of the strangleholds of lockdowns and contagion worries; trying to find an already-elusive sense of balance is near impossible during a pandemic.
If you are a caregiver watching your loved one’s health and abilities decline, no doubt it compounds the pressure you are already experiencing. Part of that pressure is the decision-making you are tasked with about their long-term care – and how to finance that care. As you deliberate over your choices, remember that the experienced and thoughtful team at Caring Places Management is here for you. We understand the complexities you are dealing with right now, and we hope the following information can offer insight and comfort as you forge ahead into uncharted territory.
The decision-making journey
As difficult as it is, try to assess your loved one’s needs objectively and without guilt. Realistically, their needs require a degree of professional care that is likely beyond your skill – and beyond your emotional and physical capacity, which is why there are teams of caregivers at long-term facilities.
Before your loved one’s mental health declines significantly, be sure you understand their wishes for life-saving treatments, and that you have a power of attorney so you can make financial and essential care decisions on their behalf. The forms for this important paperwork are easy to find and fill out; once they are completed, be sure to keep them in an accessible yet safe place. Preparing them in advance can save your family a lot of anxiety and anguish should your loved experience a health setback.
You will also need to select a long-term care community that is equipped to meet their needs today, while considering how those needs might change in a few months or in a few years. Depending on your geographical location, you may have several options to consider; call them to see if you can arrange in-person visits while exercising appropriate pandemic safety protocols. If your loved one is unable to accompany you, be sure to take several photographs or videos you can show them so they can be a part of the decision-making process. You may also want to research how a long-term care community handled the pandemic crisis, and what, if any, changes they have made to improve their response.
Finally, you’ll need to figure out the financial aspect of care in a long-term facility, which can be significant. Many families rely on Medicaid as one funding mechanism for this care as long as your loved one meets certain financial and medical requirements, but be aware that the qualifications can vary by state.
Other families rely on personal assets, such as saving or retirement accounts. Still others opt to sell a home. The judiciousness of this decision needs to be weighed against other financial options, as well as the current home buying market. If it is currently a seller’s market with a low inventory of available homes and high buyer demand, now might be the ideal time to put the home on the market – even during a pandemic. Find a local real estate agent who has market data for your area at their fingertips. This will show what homes are selling for and how long it takes the average home to sell. Real estate agents have had to adapt to keep homes moving during the pandemic, and make good use of such showing tools as 3D walkthroughs, video-chat tours, and virtual open houses.
The next journey
When struggling with the decision about moving your loved one to a long-term care facility, you may always have a nagging question of whether you could do more at home for just a bit longer. This is a normal feeling. Remember that long-term care communities are designed for just this purpose: to provide care. Your loved one deserves the best possible and most professional care, and that is exactly what you are doing for them in this decision-making process. Feel free to reach out to Caring Place Management to see how we can exceed your caregiving expectations, and put your troubled thoughts at ease. We will also remind you of what a good job you have done.
Written by: June Duncan with Rise Up for Caregivers Organization