How can we coordinate a care plan for my parents who have vastly different caregiving needs?


Q: How can we coordinate a care plan for my parents who have vastly different caregiving needs?

A: Care plans need to be individualized for each care recipient and it is not at all unusual for each of your elderly parents to have different needs at different times. Wherever possible, care arrangements should be put in place for the parent who is in the need of the most care. For example, if your Mom needs only minimal help, let's say with managing her medications, while your Dad needs help transferring from bed to chair, getting in and out of the shower and dressing, there need to be resources available to help your Dad.

If not, it's likely that your Mom will try to help him and can injure herself and your Dad in the process. Safety is the most important consideration and then you work from there.

As another example, if one parent suffers from advanced Alzheimer's Disease (AD) while the other is confined to a wheelchair, it may be necessary to separate them. The parent with AD may need to be in a secure memory care unit, while the parent with mobility issues may do fine at home with appropriate aging-in-place modifications.

A geriatric care manager can help you ensure both of your parents needs are met, as well as plan for their future needs as they age.

Sheri Samotin brings more than 30 years of business and management experience to LifeBridge Solutions. She is a Certified National Guardian, Certified Daily Money Manager & Certified Professional Coach. She is the author of Facing the Finish: A Road Map for Aging Parents and Adult Children.

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Are your parents still in love? Or have they gotten to the point where they find relief being apart? Is one dependent on the other? Do they have an "enabling" relationship? Are they two different personality types in such a way that "helpful" care is defined in two very different ways? These are the questions your "geriatric care manager can help you answer.
My parents needed very different kinds of care. My mother had end-stage cancer and was physically failing, but was sharp as a tack mentally. She needed to feel she had some control over her life. I provided her with a "log book" to record what was happening and it soothed her agitation, as well as keeping the staff alert because they knew she was keeping records.
My father simply "went with the flow." As a result he got VRE (see the CDC for a definition) and it complicated where he could be placed. He needed more custodial care than my mother and ended up in an "Alzheimer's unit" for several years.
My suggestion is that you try for a "continuing care" facility. See if they can share a bedroom. Then the "weller" one can spend the day out being stimulated appropriately while the "sicker" one receives the treatment they need.
Blessings on you and good luck.