Expert Gives Advice On How To Prepare For Long-Term Care

Source: 
Town News
Published: 
07/07/2011

As people live longer, the world's population is getting older, and many haven't been educated on how to properly deal with related concerns such as long-term care, according to geriatric caregiver and author Dr. Marion Somers.

Somers gave a speech at CareOne at the Cupola in Paramus on June 29.

Recent polling indicates 74 percent of Americans between 55 and 65 are concerned about their own needs for long-term care in the future, and a further 25 percent aren't even sure how much a day in a nursing home costs. To help educate the public and prepare for the future, Somers, who has 40 years of experience as a teacher and practitioner of geriatric care, is headlining the national 3in4 Need More Tour, educating people across the country about how to prepare to care for themselves and their loved ones when the need for long-term care arises.

Something as straightforward as preparing a home to make it more accessible for aging residents, such as an elderly parent moving in, is more complicated than it may first seem, according to Somers. Even a simple grab bar used to help maneuver in the bathroom requires special installation to ensure it is properly secured and usable.

"Getting the right person, someone who is really skilled, not just somebody who says 'I'm a handyman, I can do it,' is very complicated," Somers said. "People don't know where these resources are. People with the 3in4 campaign are going to have a roster of information not just about long-term care insurance, but how to help people. This is an educational tool for the country.

"The federal government is not going to be able to deal with this geriatric tsunami that is about to hit us. It's just not. So we each individually have to take care of ourselves," Somers said.

Exercise and proper nutrition remains very important, according to Somers. In addition, simple actions such as retrofitting one's home with amenities that will be useful as they get older, such as installing handrails on both sides of a staircase, can prove beneficial later.

While she described CareOne as "exquisite," Somers also noted that many people simply cannot afford the costs associated with assisted living facilities, and therefore preparing a home for an aging individual can be very important.

"The vast majority of people cannot come into a facility like this," Somers said. "So how do people take care of themselves in their own homes?"

Prior education can be beneficial even when visiting the doctor, Somers said. Doctors only spend an average of 14.5 minutes with any given patient, and older patients often require more.

"When all of these things are brought to the doctor's attention, and they know there's a squeaky wheel relative or somebody who's concerned, they pay attention," Somers said.

Possibly the most important part of education is being prepared in case of a major incident, according to Somers.

"When an incident happens, it makes an impact and nobody is prepared," Somers said. "This is a reactive society, not a proactive society, and I'm a proactive person."

Through the campaign and speaking to politicians, Somers seeks to educate people about options, show where they can find the information, and help people become caregivers without having to sacrifice their own wellbeing.

"What I want people to start thinking about, and that's what this whole campaign is about, is how do we look at the resources," Somers said."Where are they, who do we ask, what questions do we ask, how far reaching can we go for those answers and are the answers available?"

More information about the tour and how to prepare for long-term care can be found at 3in4needmore.com

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