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Care for Parents in San Diego

Sunday, September 21st, 2014 10:51 am | by San Diego Home Caregivers

  1. Know what you need to know.

Experienced caregivers recommend that you learn as much as you can about your mom or dad’s (or both) illness, medicines, and resources that might be available in San Diego.

  • Information can help you understand what is going on, anticipate the course of an illness, prevent crises, and assist in healthcare management. It can also make talking with the doctor easier.
  • Make sure at least one family member has written permission to receive medical and financial information. To the extent possible, one family member should be the one to talk with all San Diego healthcare providers.
  • Try putting together a notebook, on paper or online, that includes all the vital information about medical care, social services, contact numbers, financial issues, and so on.
  • Make copies for other caregivers, and keep it up-to-date. Or provide it to your caregiving network by saving it “in the cloud” through Google docs, or other online storage service such as Dropbox.
  1. Plan your visits.

When visiting your parent or parents in San Diego, you may find that there is just too much to do in the time that you have. You can get more done and feel less stressed by planning ahead.

  • Talk to your parent and find out what he or she would like to do.
  • Check with the primary caregiver, if appropriate, to learn what he or she needs, such as handling some caregiving responsibilities while you are in town.
  • Does your mother need to get some new winter clothes or visit another family member?
  • Could your father use help fixing things around the house?
  • Would you like to talk to your mother’s physician?
  • Decide on the priorities and leave other tasks to another visit.
  1. Spend some quality time.

Try to make time to do things unrelated to being a caregiver.

  • Rent a movie to watch with your parents, or plan a visit with old family friends or other family members.
  • Perhaps they would like to attend church.
  • Offer to play a game of cards or a board game.
  • Take a drive, or go to the library together.
  • Take your mom or dad (or both) to dinner at one of their favorite places in San Diego.
  • Take you Dad to a San Diego Padres baseball game!

Finding a little bit of time to do something simple and relaxing can help everyone, and it builds more family memories. Keep in mind that your parents are the focus of your trip to San Diego—try to let outside distractions wait until you are home again.

  1. Get in touch, stay in touch.

Many families schedule conference calls with doctors, the assisted living facility team, or nursing home staff so several relatives can participate in one conversation and get up-to-date information about a parent’s health and progress. Google Voice is a free service you can use for this. GroupMe is a smartphone app for free group messaging.

  • If your parent is in a nursing home, you can request occasional teleconferences with the staff.
  • Sometimes a social worker is good to talk to for updates as well as help in making decisions.
  • If you use Unfrazzle you can set up regular conference calls with your Unfrazzle network.
  • Unfrazzle users can also set up a shared caregiver bulletin board.
  • Try to find people in the San Diego community who can provide a realistic view of what is going on. In some cases, this will be your other parent.
  • Don’t underestimate the value of a phone and email contact list. It is a simple way to keep everyone updated on your parents’ needs and home care plan. Once again this list could be shared in the cloud through Google Docs or DropBox.
  1. Help your parents stay in contact.

The simple strategies below can be a lifeline. But be prepared—you may find you are inundated with calls from your parent. It’s good to think in advance about a workable approach for coping with numerous calls.

  • For one family, having a private phone line installed in their father’s nursing home room allowed him to stay in touch.
  • For another family, giving grandma a cell phone (and then teaching her how to use it) gave everyone some peace of mind.
  • You can program telephone numbers (such as those for the doctors, friends, and yourself) into the phone for speed dialing contacts.
  • If your parents have a computer you can get them a Skype account or teach them how to use Apple’s FaceTime.
  1. Learn more about caregiving.

Whether you are the primary caregiver in San Diego or a long-distance caregiver, getting some caregiving training can be very helpful. As with a lot of things in life, many of us don’t automatically have a lot of caregiver skills.

  • Training, for example, can teach you how to safely move someone from a bed to a chair, how to help someone bathe, how to prevent and treat bed sores, as well as basic first aid.
  • You can find information about training opportunities in your area online.
  • Some local San Diego chapters of the American Red Cross might offer courses, as do some non-profit organizations focused on caregiving.
  • Medicare and Medicaid will sometimes pay for this training.
  • The U.S. Government maintains a massive database of community services and programs called the Eldercare Locator.
  1. Gather a list of resources in your parent’s neighborhood. 
  • Searching the internet is a good way to start collecting resources.
  • Having a copy of the phone book for your parent’s city or town can also be really useful.
  • The “Blue Pages” provide an easy guide to state and local services.
  • Also check with local senior centers for lists of sources of help.
  • The National Institute on Aging’s website 0ffers an online list of more than 300 national health and aging organizations, including contact information. You can visit them at http://www.nia.nih.gov/.


Helping Parents with Home Care

Sunday, April 27th, 2014 10:19 am | by San Diego Home Caregivers

Home Care in San Diego requires foresight and preparedness. You can’t predict when something might happen to your aging parent. Whether an unexpected illness leads to a hospitalization, or a fall requires rehabilitation at a nursing home; in these instances it’s vital that your parents have their essential legal documents in order so that you have a good picture of their state of affairs.

Here are ten questions to ask your senior parents in San Diego to make sure your family is prepared for the unexpected. This list should help with determining their need for home care as well. It may be best to gather the answers to these questions over the course of days or weeks rather than springing them on Mom or Dad all at once.

1. Do you have a durable power of attorney?

Durable power of attorney designates who will take care of your affairs if you are unable to decide for yourself in the case of mental or physical incapacitation. Seniors can designate one person to handle health care decisions (the health care proxy) and another for financial decisions (the financial proxy) or they can designate one person for both roles. It helps to have someone local in San Diego for this part of the home care plan.

2. What are your end-of-life wishes?

A living will, also known as an advance health care directive, is used to indicate choices about end-of-life care. For example: Would you want a ventilator and feeding tube used to keep you alive even in an irreversible coma? Do you want CPR initiated if your heart stops, even if you are terminally ill? Make sure the health care proxy is aware of your parent’s decisions.

3. Do you have a will or living trust?

Wills and living trusts are the legal methods used to designate what happens to your possessions and money after you die. A will simply specifies, in writing, who gets what, and how much. A living trust is an alternative to a will. A senior who prefers a trust puts their assets in the trust and names a person to take charge in case of death or incapacitation. If needed, research local attorneys in San Diego that specialize in elder care law.

4. Do you have long-term care insurance or another plan in case long-term care in San Diego is required?

The national average cost for assisted living is $3,074, according to an analysis of the pricing of communities in A Place for Mom’s network. In some regions like San Diego, the cost of care in a health care facility or with in-home care is much higher. This can decimate a senior’s nest egg rapidly, so it’s important to know if your parent has insurance to offset these costs, or some other plan in place should long-term-care needs arise. If your parent does have long-term insurance, read the policy to make sure you understand it. Call the insurer if you have questions about what is and is not covered.

5. Have you made sure that their documents in San Diego are current?

All of the documents we’ve mentioned need to be up-to-date and current for them to work properly. Encourage your parent to revisit estate planning and care planning measures each year.

6. Where can I find these documents if I ever need them?

It doesn’t do any good for your parent to have these documents in order if they can’t be found in an emergency. Make sure you know where they are and how to get to them. For example, if they’re in a safe deposit box, see to it that a trusted family member has a key and permission to access the box. If they’re in a fire-safe, someone besides the parent should have the combination.

7. Is someone advising you on financial matters as part of your home care plan?

Older parents are often fiercely independent regarding their finances, which is understandable. Even so, it’s important to know who is advising your parents regarding financial decisions. This knowledge will not only allow you to reach the adviser in case of an emergency, but also gives you a chance to make sure your parent is working with someone who is reputable. Search for a local accountant or financial advisor in San Diego.

8. If you can no longer take care of yourself, have you thought about where you’d prefer living in San Diego?

Start the discussion about long-term care options before crisis hits. Get your parent involved early, and look at options before the need arises. This gives your parent an opportunity to provide input about preferences and to get involved in the process rather than having to passively accept arrangements hastily made at the last minute by well-meaning but uninformed loved ones. A Place for Mom can help you identify quality senior communities and home care providers so that your family has a plan B in place. To help in your planning, we also encourage you to compare your parent’s current cost of living with the costs of assisted living and in-home care in your San Diego using A Place for Mom’s handy Cost of Care Calculator.

9. Do you visit the doctor regularly?

Your parent may be seeing several specialists in addition to a primary care physician. If your parent becomes hospitalized, information from one of these doctors could be critical. If possible, ask your parent to provide you a list of physicians seen regularly, and how to contact them. On the other hand, some seniors’ may have the opposite issue. Their idea of a doctor’s visit may be a weekly session in front of the TV with Dr. House. This question can also help prompt a meaningful discussion about your parent’s general health and well-being as well as there home care plan.

10. Do you feel like you understand why you’re taking the medicines you’ve been prescribed?

Many San Diego seniors end up on a dozen medicines or more. This question can help you gauge whether your parent is able to manage his or her medications independently, and also may provide a clearer overall picture of medical status. And just as it’s important to know who your parent’s physicians are in case of emergency, it’s also important to know what medicines your parent takes. Being able to provide this information to hospital staff in case of a medical crisis can be vital to effective treatment.

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