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Finding the Right Senior Care for Someone You Love

“I am not sure when Dad started needing more help. It seems like I just woke up one day and everything was out of sorts. He had a fender bender with a neighbor down the street. It wasn’t really bad but it sure did shake him up. I have never seen dad like that. He seemed nervous and stressed. I noticed that since the accident he was not leaving home. It was becoming obvious that he needed help.” ~Claire

Claire was new to the world of senior care.

She really didn’t know where to go for help. When she googled she got even more confused? There was so much information. Did she need an advisor? Should she bring in home care or home health care? What was the difference? Did Dad need assisted living? He was also forgetting a lot of things. Would he need Memory Care? The more she read about what could go wrong the more worried she became.

Adult Children Are Confused About ElderCare

Claire is typical of most adult children.  There are no classes in school to teach Caregiving 101. You are on your own to figure it out. A lot of people will be willing to offer you advice but who can you trust to give you the right advice? After all, you want the right care for dad.

This article will help you to understand the different types of care that are available to you. More is not better. In other words, try to go with the least amount of care that will solve the situation.

Claire’s Dad Lives Alone

For instance, Claire’s Dad lives in his own home. He is comfortable there and knows his neighbors. You live close by and have a brother a few miles away that will check on Dad sometimes. Dad sometimes forgets things but he is still able to take care of most day to day activities. The accident threw him off and he realizes that his vision and reflexes may not be a good as they used to be. You worry that he doesn’t like to cook. As such he may not be eating very well.

First Step

Have a Brown Bag Consultation with a pharmacist. This is when you bring all of Dad’s medications into the pharmacist to look at. They will go over everything to make sure Dad is not taking duplicates of any medications. Amanda Faught, Pharmacist says that most pharmacists are happy to help. Listen to her interview on the Life After 50 Show. Amanda says that many seniors are prescribed medications from different doctors that have the same benefits. Taking both may be dangerous for your health.

Tell the pharmacist about new symptoms that you may be concerned about. Depression, weight gain or loss, and other issues may be related to a medication or a combination of medications. Your pharmacist is a good first stop. Most will also call your doctor about any concerns they have.

Step Two


Now go and see the doctor. When you make the appointment make sure they know you will be accompanying Dad and have questions. This way the office will schedule time so hopefully, you will not be too rushed.

Make sure dad has a thorough check up.

This way you know what medical issues he may need help managing. Does he have balance issues? Diabetes? Heart issues? Ask the doctor if there are any home services that could help. If Dad is having balance issues Home Health Care can send a physical therapist to help. You will need a doctor’s order for this however.

Start by Bringing In Care To His Home

There are two types of care at home you should consider. Most likely you will need both.

#1 Home Health Care

This service is paid by Medicare

Think medical. Things like physical, speech and occupational therapy. Nursing. Wound care. Home health care is often prescribed after someone has a fall or an illness and they need help recouping.  However, you can ask your doctor to prescribe these services if you think they will benefit your loved one. They will usually be prescribed for a limited time period.

What They Don't Do

This service will NOT cook, clean, drive you somewhere or offer any other personal care service. They will not sit with your loved one while you run errands. This service is task oriented. They will come for a specific job (like physical therapy) a set number of days each week.

#2 Home Care Services (Non- medical)

Anything you could do to help your Dad we can do when you are not available. Cook, shop, transportation and more can be handled by a home care worker. Sometimes a senior just needs companion services. They need to have someone around to play a came of cards with or work a puzzle. A senior may need help getting dressed or bathing. They could need reminders to take medication.

This service is private pay but may soon be covered by some Medicare Advantage plans. The great news is you tell the company how many hours a day. And what days and times you want to have a caregiver and they will provide for you. This gives you control over the situation. At SYNERGY Homecare we are happy to provide a wide array of services to help families.

These two services are often all that is needed to keep a senior healthy and happy in their own home. After all, surveys show that is where most seniors want to be.

Independent Living

If you are moving a parent from another city to be closer to you consider Independent Living. More than just an apartment, these communities have a lot to offer. They are also great for seniors who are just ready to give up the big house.

Most communities will offer 2 or 3 meals a day, activities of all sorts, transportation and entertainment. Additionally, seniors no longer have to worry about caring for the yard or home. This is a lifestyle choice for seniors who still want their independence without the hassles of a home.

Just like in your own home you can hire home care or home health care if you need more assistance.

Assisted Living

Assisted Living is defined as “housing for elderly or disabled people that provides nursing care, housekeeping, and prepared meals as needed” They offer care 24/7. In Texas, there are two types of Assisted Living licenses.

Texas issues a Type A and a Type B license.

The difference is in the residents they care for.In Type A facilities residents must be able to evacuate on their own in an emergency. That means they physically must be able to leave the building. And they also must be able to understand when you tell them they need to evacuate. Someone with moderate or late stage dementia would not be accepted in a Type A Facilty, because they would not meet this criteria.

In a Type B Facility, residents usually have a higher level of care needs. However, they should not be confined to a bed. They may have physical and or cognitive issues that require assistance to evacuate.

Home care, Home health and hospice can all be brought to where ever you live.  You can bring extra services to your assisted living or Independent living home.

Memory Care Communities

In Texas, all memory care communities must be licensed as an assisted living Type B facility. They must also have extra certification for memory care. These communities are locked and secure to safeguard against wandering. They also usually have activities geared towards those with cognitive impairment.

Independent Living, Assisted Living and Memory Care Facilities are mostly private pay. There are a few exceptions that offer Medicaid services to those who qualify. There are only a handful in Houston and the wait list is usually long. However, Medicare does not ever pay for these services.

Skilled Nursing or Nursing Home Care

These are large facilities and most do take Medicaid for long term living and care needs. It is important to look for one early. You may also need the help of an Elder Law attorney to apply for Medicaid. Plan to private pay the first couple of months in order to get into one of the better facilities. The Hilbun Law Firm in Cypress, Texas and the Law Firm of Smith and Smith in The Woodlands both offer workshops to help you understand what you may need.

Keeping someone home is always preferable for both the senior and their family. With Home Care, Home Health Care and Hospice Services most people will be able to remain in the comfort of their own home.

Kathryn Watson
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