Thursday I met with the Geriatric Care Manager (GCM) that I had met with in July 2012. See “Meeting the Geriatric Case Manager” for a description of when I met with the Geriatric Care Manager the first time. At that time she helped me sort out some of my questions and decide how to proceed. Her input was extremely helpful to me again this week.
Before we met together, I brought her to dad’s room to meet and talk briefly to dad. Dad had just had lunch and was starting to fall asleep in his chair, so they didn’t talk long. But she had met him 2 years ago, and I was able to tell her about his recent behavior.
First we talked about why I was looking at other living situations for dad. I am happy that dad is now stable where he is, but afraid I might have to make a quick decision in the future. We discussed the possible issues and solutions. She said she could be my backup while I am on my winter vacation. In other words, if I have to make a change in dad’s living situation while I am away, she can do the legwork for me and make the arrangements. I would fly home, but I wouldn’t have to do everything from a distance.
She pointed out that the memory care unit I had been considering offers very little more than dad is getting right now. They have nursing staff 7 days a week for 2 shifts which looks far better than the 1 weekday LPN that dad’s current ALF has. But on the other hand, dad has very little need for nursing right now. He can get from his room to the dining area without help and often sits and spends time in the lounge.
The Geriatric Case Manager thought that since dad is stable and I don’t want to move him more than once. I might have to move him to a nursing home if his medical needs ever get so great that an ALF isn’t licensed to provide them. Or I might look at an ALF with an “Enhanced license” that could provide specific medical care – such as ambulation transfers, etc. — he needed if he can still avoid a nursing home (my greatest hope!). Until then I should just wait to see what happens next.
She did also suggest though that I have dad assessed with a neurologist who specializes in Alzheimer’s and other dementias. We have a good one in our local medical center that she recommended. (Interestingly, another neighbor just mentioned referral to that same neurologist this past week). She said I should discuss it with dad’s doctor, but she thought it would be helpful for me to have a baseline measurement of where dad’s Alzheimer’s disease stands right now.
Then it would be easier for me to judge any changes I think I see in the future. The neurologist would do another assessment in 6 months or a year and note how fast or slow things are progressing. That would help me plan dad’s living arrangements rather than trying to estimate what is happening and guess what the future will bring.
The Geriatric Care Manager was also able to give me names and phone numbers of organizations that could help me find new companions for dad for this coming winter. She has worked with several of them herself and felt confident in their ability to do the job I needed done.
In addition, she gave me the names of some “Transition Movers” or “Senior Movers” who could help dad make a move should one become necessary. As usual, I was all worried about the logistics of how I would move dad’s stuff and pare down his belongings if a move were necessary, and now I can let that worry go.
I did hire transition movers when I moved mom and dad from their mobile home to their first assisted living facility. This was a tremendous help as I had to empty their mobile home in less than a week and get their new apartment furnished. The transition mover had worked with that ALF before and was able to tell me exactly what to bring and help set it all up in the new rooms. In addition, he arranged to take some of the rest to charity and ship other boxes to my home for the photo albums and other sentimental items I wanted to keep.
We met for almost 2 hours, chatting about other issues along the way. In the end she said she will send me a bill at the end of the month. But she will only charge me for one hour of her time. I felt such relief on the way home as I had been so stressed about everything that is happening in my life right now. Things seem to pile on sometimes, and it is very helpful to have an experienced person to talk to and help with the decision-making.