Live Wisely - January 1, 2020
By Kristine Jepsen
Suppose you didn’t have to choose between staying in your home and moving to an assisted living community or nursing home to get the care you need as you grow older. You can enjoy the best of both worlds by building a plan to age in place, and a team to help manage that plan.
In any sport, a team is greater than the sum of its parts. The same can be said about your caregiving team. In fact, research cited in the Annals of Long-Term Care suggests that a team approach to caregiving, especially for older adults aging in place, can significantly reduce the cost of care and improve quality of life. Both benefits are natural outcomes of close, timely communication. After all, a team accustomed to healthy, open feedback can act quickly whenever a challenge, such as a new need in maintaining your home—or your health—arises.
Your caregiving team may include several people—doctors, family members, friends, care providers, neighbors—and team members may come on and off the bench as needed. Who you need when will be determined by what you need to stay active and healthy while continuing to live at home.
Think of yourself as this team’s owner, while a Member Services Facilitator (a key benefit at Goodwin Living at Home) serves as your team manager. Your Member Services Facilitator is your carefully chosen, skilled professional who will serve as your personal champion, the one who orchestrates the other service providers and personalities that make up an effective team.
Physicians, nurses, physical therapists, home maintenance professionals, family members and friends are among the team’s most valuable players. They perform day-to-day services, such as medication coordination, household cleaning, and home repairs or updates to make aging in place easier. This network also builds the camaraderie that’s so vital to your health and longevity.
Once your caregiving team is established, you’ll work with your Member Services Facilitator to make a game plan. Together, you’ll develop your playbook, identifying how you want to handle important care transitions, such as an unexpected change in health. In these instances, your health care providers might spend more time on the playing field, and your facilitator will be there, too, coordinating care following a hospital stay or reviewing changes in medication or therapy.
Your Member Services Facilitator will support you as you decide which of your team members need to be a part of your decision-making process at these critical points, and how to communicate your wishes or concerns. This takes the guesswork out of a stressful situation, helping everyone focus on recovery.
Why go through all this planning? It’s simple: By setting up the framework for an ongoing plan and reevaluating them from from time to time, you help yourself and your loved ones. Your entire team will know just what to do if the time comes, and in doing so, will honor the wishes you put forward with your plan.
As team manager, your Member Services Facilitator will check in often to see what you need, whether it’s help clearing snow from the sidewalk, gathering resources to learn a new skill and providing recommendations on managing your care at home. You can even bundle outlying service invoices into your monthly Goodwin Living at Home billing, to eliminate extra paperwork.
A good team is flexible by nature. Its members agree to adapt and work together as time and circumstances unfold, in the interest of a long-term, winning outcome. Building and directing a dream team of trusted caregivers provides valuable assurance that you’ll have what you need when you need it—as well as friends to celebrate your milestones along the way.
Kristine Jepsen is a writer and editor for literary journals online and in print, as well as a professional business counselor, Pilates and Oula! dance instructor, grant-writer, and brand content developer. Her work with Goodwin Living centers on health and wellness along the aging continuum, covering topics as diverse as dating apps and financial scams. She lives on a farm in the Midwest with her horse-loving tween daughter and many four-legged friends, large and small.