homepage logo

Discussing the right time for a senior to leave home

By Staff | Jan 26, 2018

Vanessa McGuigan/Chronicle SAIL members helped Jack and Martha Young celebrate 60 years of marriage.

Due to advances in medicine and healthier lifestyles, people are living longer. But as people age, they often need to have serious discussions about care and choosing an adequate living environment. Shepherdstown Area Independent Living members gathered at their monthly brown bag lunch event to discuss some of the facets of aging in place, as well as advice on looking for an assisted living facility or nursing home.

A panel of guest speakers was on hand to provide helpful information and suggestions, and to answer questions.

The first speaker was Shelah McNab from the company “Home Instead.” McNab talked about the company’s services and how they can help seniors remain at home for a longer period of time.

Home Instead offers three levels of service to seniors based on their specific needs. There’s a companion home helper service for people who need a little extra help with meal preparation and companionship. They also offer personal care to assist with things like bathing, grooming and hygiene, as well as 24-hour live-in care and end-of-life hospice care.

Home Instead currently has around 125 thoroughly vetted caregivers, and they’re looking to bring on more qualified personnel to meet the growing demand for services.

A checklist of activities of daily living, or ADL, can help determine the level of care assistance a person might need. Among items listed are things like bathing, dressing, grooming, toileting, eating, climbing stairs and cooking. Determining factors are how many of the items a person can do independently, can do with help or can’t do at all.

“When you can’t do some of those things and you don’t have someone to do them for you, then you’re going to have to find somebody-some help,” said panelist Vicky Thomas, a SAIL members and former social worker.

Since emotions can run high when discussing leaving the home, Thomas recommends utilizing the services of a geriatric case manager whenever possible. Geriatric case managers are trained in social work, psychology, gerontology and nursing, and are advocates for older adults. They’re adept at working with insurance companies and solving complex problems facing older generations.

“One thing you have to know when you’re living alone is that at some point you’re going to need to know where to find your resources like healthcare agencies, personal care agencies, assisted living facilities,” Thomas said. “A geriatric case manager can help with all of that.”

Thomas said that as a social worker in a hospital, she had to make nursing home recommendations on many occasions. She said they advised seniors to choose a nonprofit if possible.

“The other piece of advice is to make your decisions early, because otherwise you get to a crisis point and a decision will be made for you of what’s available at the time,” she said.

Panelist Tom Miller discussed the benefits of the new Shepherd Village senior cohousing community and the Sage Place Commons that is being built on E. German Street near the daycare.

Miller said the group of investors of Shepherd Village didn’t want to leave Shepherdstown to end up in a retirement community in another state.

“The goal is to keep ourselves here to end or almost the end,” said Miller.

The Shepherd Village is 100 percent sold, but Sage Place Commons has lots available for purchase where a customizable duplex will be built.

Members of the group discussed small changes to living areas that could be made in the home, as well as minor adjustments to daily living that enable them to stay in their homes. Several members have medical alert devices, while others recommend carrying a cell phone everywhere – in and out of the house- in case of a fall or sudden health complication. A few of the members wear their phones in a pouch attached to a lanyard around the neck.

Other recommendations included adding handrails, higher commode seats and putting grab-bars in the bathroom, and securing throw rugs to the floor. Members were provided a home safety checklist.

Shepherdstown SAIL is a nonprofit organization designed to help senior citizens stay in their homes as long as possible by providing information and services to seniors, as well as providing companionship to combat isolation. For more information, visit shepherdstownsail.org or call 304-870-7245.