The Tricky Timing of Senior Care Decision-Making

By Michelle Seitzer / Posted on 16 March 2012

If you have ever needed a flight or a hotel at the last minute, you know how limited — and costly — your options may be, though much depends on where you live and what time of year you need it. Finding a room in assisted living on short notice follows a similar pattern.

Many caregivers find themselves making a last-minute care decision after a parent or relative has a medical emergency, like a heart attack, stroke, or fracture. After a few tense hours in the ER or ICU, anxious about a loved one’s status and scrambling to figure out what comes next (a decision whose timing typically rests with what the patient’s insurance coverage allows), they quickly learn that nursing homes and assisted living communities may not have an open bed or apartment readily available. This is an especially common occurrence among men who need care, since double- and triple-occupancy nursing home rooms cannot accommodate both men and women.

Making a senior care decision can be a moving target though. Even after an open bed is found (and it may not be at your top choice facility), your loved one could have a relapse that requires another day of testing or observation, which means you may lose your place at the assisted living.

No one knows what the future holds, but planning ahead as much as possible is your best defense.



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