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Planning and Advice

Trusting someone with your loved one is never easy. As much as we all wish we could watch over each other indefinitely, the difficult truth is there are situations where advanced care and protection are needed. Every case is unique, because each person is different. So many things need to be taken into account. Dietary needs, feeding times, exercise routines, therapeutic practices, sleep habits and more are combined with medical direction to form a one-of-a-kind care plan for any person aging or requiring around-the-clock care. How do you find help taking care of someone who means so much to you, if nobody knows them like you do? We hope to be able to answer that when you come to visit Gardner. 

But that’s not the only question you need answers to. There are a number of questions you need to ask yourself and a potential care partner in order to understand your situation, find the right place and create a care plan.

1. When is the right time to find a care facility?

Almost any airline’s preflight warning reminds us that we have to care for ourselves in order to care for someone else. Everyone needs sleep, peace of mind and a reduced stress level to function properly. Tired, stressed out people make mistakes, and mistakes can be incredibly costly. If you find yourself in a situation where turning away for a moment could lead to drastic consequences, you need help. The goal must always be to maintain the dignity of the person requiring care. As difficult as it is to realize, there are times where that means you may not be the best person to be caring for them. 

2. What do your senses tell you?

When you visit a potential facility, you really have to explore, use your senses and capture as much information as you can. Right now, you may be the only person responsible for the well-being and comfort of a very important human being. That means you’ll want to:

  • Visually inspect the facilities. You are looking for cleanliness, layout, spatial planning, etc. Equipment shouldn’t be stacked messily or difficult to get to or use during an emergency. In addition, take note of proof that needs are not being met, staff are overworked, or there is poor communication patterns between staff or between staff and patients. See that common areas are clean, that some care has been taken to create a welcoming environment. No facility can duplicate anyone’s home in particular, but if it looks imposing, medicinal or too much like a hospital, your loved one won’t be comfortable there.
  • Listen to conversations, background noise, and other patients. If you hear road traffic, constant beeping, humming or facility-related noises constantly, it will be difficult for anyone to feel comfortable long term. 
  • Check for constant, odd odors or strong scents. Although our sense of smell can diminish with age, it may be a vital tool for you to detect a potential issue in a facility. Fresh, clean air is vital to comfort, healing and peace of mind. Due to the nature of the facility, some scents are unavoidable. However, briefly smelling something unpleasant is different from a constant mildew or plumbing issue.
  • Taste the food. As people age, they may begin losing sensory abilities, and healthy, regular eating is vital to care. This is one of the most challenging aspects of providing good care, for a number of reasons. Dining at nursing facilities often requires meeting particular dietary codes. Chances are residents will notice a difference between facility food and the dish they used to order at their favorite restaurant. That being said, if you can’t stomach the food served on a regular basis, why would you want to subject your loved one to that? The food should be both nutritious and tasty, or your loved one won’t want to stay. 

3. What is there to do? 

Boredom is torture. Your loved one deserves to be in a place where people interact and enjoy social activities to the extent that they can. Look for involvement in a common area, planned classes or fun events. Check for the availability of communication methods, reading materials and places to relax, alone or in a group. This is their new home. It should not resemble or operate as a prison. 

4. What if there’s an emergency?

If your loved one is facing a medical, physical or psychological challenge, you’ll want to know the chain of events that begins when something happens. That means if there’s a fall, a dangerous situation or a repetitive minor injury, your loved one should be cared for, checked again later for any injury that wasn’t immediately visible and have information shared between shifts, as well as between the facility and you. Having a designated person or role that provides a central contact point is vital to your peace of mind. If you ever feel that your loved one wasn’t given the appropriate care, you should have the ability to share that information with someone who can make a difference. That means you should be aware of and have access to the complete chain of command. Even in the best facilities, accidents happen. How they handle those events is what defines a safe, nurturing place for your loved one, versus someplace that will add to problems, rather than diminish them.

Transitional care

Skilled rehabilitation

Speech therapy

Physical therapy

Occupational therapy

Post-acute nursing