The latest stats from Consumer Affairs show that the number of Americans being transitioned into long-term care living is at an all-time high with an estimated 8.3 million mostly senior adults residing in approximately 65,600 facilities in the U.S. Oftentimes, the decision-makers are the adult children who must determine the timing of placement, then deal with the emotional fallout that so often accompanies putting one’s parents in an “old folks home.”
Board-certified Internal Medicine physician specializing in Geriatrics Michael Tehrani, M.D.is Medical Director at Brand New Day, a California Medicare program whose Select Plan deals exclusively with long-term care residents. He says that the adult children of their aging parents are often “in a quandary” as they struggle with taking the initial steps of finding a facility, then suffer from guilt associated with the placement.
“There are so many factors that go into play when it comes time to placing one’s parents in a long-term care facility including cost, insurance and dealing with other family members,” says Tehrani. “The first step for all concerned is to be informed. Seek advice from the family doctor, use internet searches operated exclusively by credible sources, ask friends who have gone through the experience and have open and frank discussions with your parents.”
Among the signs that long-term care may be the best option for one’s elderly parent(s): they neglect their own personal needs and the environment in which they live; they fail to pay their bills; they start behaving more aggressively, both verbally and physically; they are unable to perform basic day-to-day needs such as bathing, eating, dressing, using the bathroom, taking their prescription medications regularly, etc.; and they begin displaying concerning cognitive changes such as getting lost and confused frequently, not able to carry on conversations, blurting out inappropriate comments, etc.
Tehrani says that the best outcomes are derived when the parent is part of the decision-making process and that having their needs met by professionals is the best course of action for them. Once the parents are placed, many of their adult children will still feel guilt with their decision so he advises the following coping skills: understand that professionals will take care of their needs more effectively than you can; take comfort in knowing that their day-to-day needs are being met in a safe environment; make frequent visits to keep tabs of your parents and the level of care they are receiving; ask detailed questions of their care providers; keep notes after visits to detail any cognitive, emotional or physical changes your parents might be experiencing; and, if they are able, teach them how to Zoom, FaceTime or use any other form of technology to keep in touch with family and friends.
In addition to its Select Plan, Brand New Day offers its Bridges Plan for members with dementia and Alzheimer’s, its Classic Plan (basic plan for Medicare-only, Medicare and Medi-Cal members), Embrace Plan for those with heart disease and/or diabetes and its Harmony Plan serving those with mental illness including major depression, schizophrenia, schizoaffective disorder, bipolar disorder, and paranoid disorder.
Brand New Day works with independent brokers throughout the state and can arrange for an in-person appointment for those wanting to review the plans in their area. Brand New Day is a subsidiary of Bright HealthCare and Bright Health Group. For more information about the Brand New Day Medicare Advantage plans, call (866) 255-4795, TTY 711 and visit www.BNDHMO.com.
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Disclaimer: The views, suggestions, and opinions expressed here are the sole responsibility of the experts. No Boston New Times journalist was involved in the writing and production of this article.