A call came from the discharge planner at the hospital in Hillsboro. They had a patient that needed 24×7 supervision who couldn’t return to his home and needed to find a memory care facility as he was an “elopement risk” (they were worried he would walk out the front door and wander away). The hospital case manager wanted to discharge him as quickly as possible and asked us to help find him a room in memory care in Portland as it wasn’t safe to allow him to return home.
We talked to the family to find out what was important to them in in finding the right fit. He had to be near his wife of 60+ years so she could visit and they expected him to ‘spend down’ to Medicaid in a year or so. He also had specific health care needs that the facility had to be able to provide.
We called every memory care building on the west side of Portland and only one building that meet their requirements had a vacancy. After a quick tour it was determined the building wasn’t going to be right for him. We hit a wall—he needed to leave the hospital but there wasn’t anything available that met their requirements. It was extremely stressful to his daughters and his wife’s health started being impacted too. She was starting to show symptoms of the pneumonia that sent him to the hospital.
There were lots of signs he (and his wife) needed more assistance. The daughters had already decided the next time he was in the hospital would be the final straw, it would be time to move. While usually we can find the perfect place for him to move, this time every memory care building was full and most had a waiting list.
Our number one recommendation is don’t wait until there’s a crisis to make a move. When it’s a crisis you are stuck with what’s available and it may not be what you really want. The senior in crisis won’t get input on which place he/she wants, family will have to make all the decisions. They’re already feeling overwhelmed with all that’s going on with their loved ones and the pressure of making a quick decision to meet hospital discharge expectations is extremely stressful!
We generally see the signs that assistance is needed and tend to ignore them. That just leads to a health crisis. If the seniors had moved to assisted living earlier than the hospitalization they could have avoid the crisis in the first place as residents are getting the medical attention they need, regular meals and staff keeping an eye on their welfare. Watch for signs that assistance is needed and start looking for housing then. You don’t have to move right away but at least have a plan with back up options. Don’t wait for a crisis, act now. You won’t regret it and may even wonder why you waited this long to make the move.