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Oct 4, 201812:39 PMOpen Mic

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Navigating long-term care: From complexity to simplicity

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We cannot control the aging process, but we can determine how we plan for it.

Disease and health conditions do not discriminate by family size. Long-term care (LTC) planning is a necessity whether you have a family of 10 with multiple siblings who make decisions or a family of one with individuals who don’t have children or spouses.

LTC is not a one-size-fits-all process. Personalities, objectives, care plans, course corrections, and communication create the need for flexible, empathetic, and structured care plans administered in concert among families and care management professionals.

I have worked with families as a LTC professional for over 22 years. As an adult son with two aging parents at home, I understand that every person has a story and every family has a unique history. Some are warm and humorous, some are heartfelt, and some are complicated.

Navigating LTC without a plan and without a team can be a challenging, emotionally charged, and complex process. But LTC is manageable when families partner with care management companies that can simplify the complexities.

In my experience, there are three core complexities within the LTC process — fundamental issues with which families often struggle at various stages of a LTC journey. Within these areas, families can benefit by working with a skilled, experienced, often-licensed, and impartial care manager or care specialist who can help manage personal, private, and professional snafus.

Families are complicated

At times, the LTC journey involves not only coordinating care, but also coordinating family member participation. Organization is the remedy to stressful care situations.

We all come from different backgrounds and have different experiences, and we all have different caregiving needs. Some of the primary goals of care management professionals involve customizing the approach: get to know a person; understand their needs; establish benchmarks; develop a care plan; work within their lifestyle; and allow for flexibility.

Often, caring for aging parents turns into a role reversal. It can take time to adjust to this change in dynamics. Siblings sometimes do not agree with care plans. Other family members may not agree with care plans or may not grasp the big picture.

Add out-of-town family members to the mix, and the need for an organized, consistent, and easy-to-communicate LTC plan becomes even more evident.

Solution: Every family should have a “coach,” like a guide or a navigator, to guide them in their LTC journey. Care managers and home care professionals provide an extra layer of experience that, when blended with a family’s wishes, complete the health care composite.

Care professionals can mitigate poor communication between family members. It’s important to consistently and accurately monitor daily routine and care, sudden or gradual changes in behaviors, and overall health improvement or degradation.

These processes are a must for LTC, and health care professionals are trained for them.

(Continued)

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