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Caring For An Elderly Loved One



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Caring For An Elderly Loved One

DANBURY — As baby boomers age, more of them are dealing with issues related to elderly parents.

Questions of whether elderly loved ones can care for themselves and remain in their house, or need in-home care or assisted living often arise, and answers are not always easy.

To address issues like deciding when it is time to get help, choosing a nursing home, knowing when to call Hospice, making a living will and other legal concerns, a panel of experts associated with Danbury Hospital and the community presented a Medical Town Meeting on the topic of, “When a Loved One Needs Care.”

The panel explained the levels of care available to the elderly, from a few hours a day of social day care and Meals on Wheels, to live-in skilled professional care or a nursing home. The panel included Mary Ann Faraguna, executive director, Danbury Visiting Nurse Association; Maureen Moore, director of Regional Hospice of Western Connecticut; Paul Lux, a Newtown eldercare attorney; and attorney Michael Malone, vice president of Filosa Companies, an expert in long-term, nursing home and assisted living care.

It is always an effort to strike a balance between understanding the wishes of the elderly — in most cases to stay in their homes — and providing what they need when it is apparent they no longer can care for themselves.

Ms Faraguna gave tips on how to tell when it is time to make a change for a loved one. She said the warning signs are:

*An inability to manage their personal care, including not bathing regularly and grooming themselves properly.

*Not managing the activities of daily living (ADL), such as eating, doing laundry, paying bills, using the phone.

*A change in their physical, emotional, or mental condition.

*Becoming forgetful.

*Getting lost, wandering or becoming isolated or shut-in.

*Falling easily.

Ms Faraguna said that home-health care can help keep a person at home for as long as possible, and is a less expensive option than some other higher levels of care. Home-health care professionals can provide a menu of services to help a patient, from getting them up and dressed, to coordinating other services available to them.

She suggests looking for an agency that is certified and licensed and will work within the guidelines of a patient’s bill of rights.

When a person is sicker and needs a nursing home, or if he or she has made the decision to enter assisted living, Mr Malone offered some tips for deciding what level of care is best.

In deciding about an assisted living facility vs a nursing home, Mr Malone offered these tips:

*First determine whether the person has a stable or unstable medical condition.

*Is the person physically independent and can do the ADLs?

*Does he or she have cognitive awareness and are they safe?

*Does the person have a mental or emotional condition?

*Is there an expected upcoming change in condition?

The answers to these questions will help determine what level of care is needed.

Ms Moore stressed the importance of having advanced directives for an elderly loved one, and when and how to use Hospice care.

For more information about eldercare options, visit the hospital website at www.danburyhospital.org or call the Danbury Visiting Nurse Association at 792-4120.

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