About a month ago, my parents’ health took a sudden turn and it led me down the path that many of our clients and their families face, tackling long term care. In our case, it was an accident outside their home. My mom broke her leg. My dad suffered some bumps and bruises but nothing worse than that.
As elder care attorneys, Laurie and I are very familiar with the range of service available when a crisis arises and the amazing work performed by rehab facilities, social workers, care managers, therapists and home health care agencies. We relied upon the people we have come to trust and recommend to our clients to help my mom. The recovery process is a slow one but with the guidance and care she has received, and will continue to receive, she’s on the mend.
We have been lucky in that, until now, both my parents have been healthy and independent. However, I always knew of the likelihood that this time would come. I am always reminded of a conversation I had some time ago with the child of a 95 year old parent who called me seeking help. She said, “I just never thought this would happen”, referring to her mom’s sudden decline. I wanted to be prepared. I know differently.
It’s never easy dealing with a crisis. We all lead busy lives. Laurie and I have our law practice and 3 children. So running back and forth to the hospital, talking to the doctors and nurses and making treatment and placement decisions was time consuming.
But, there were some decisions we made several years ago that made things much easier for my parents and I. I grew up in Parsippany only 20 minutes away from Livingston. Still, I knew that in a crisis Laurie and I would need to go back and forth to care for them. That’s one reason why we encouraged them to sell their home and move to Livingston, making it much easier to work those trips into our busy day.
Other reasons to move included downsizing and safety. Their home was a bilevel, requiring climbing and descending a flight of stairs to get in and out, not helpful for a resident with mobility issues. Just as important was the townhouse they chose to move to. It is on one level with wide entrances and much more room in the bathroom to be able to navigate, especially with the wheelchair that my mom will be confined to for a few months.
Finally, the health care directives that we had put in place allowed me to talk to doctors and nurses and help my parents make decisions about their treatment and care. So, while life emergencies never come at a great time, the planning that we have done and the decisions that my parents made with my guidance have helped soften the impact for the entire family, reducing the stress level for everyone and easing my mom’s road to recovery.