DINK #289 Helping Others To Help Themselves

Posted on : 05-01-2011 | By : Lynn | In : Uncategorized


Are you getting older? Do you have friends and/or family who are aging?   If you are human, than you can answer yes to both of these questions. In fact if you are from planet Earth, you can answer “yes’ to both of these questions…and if you’re not human, but from planet Earth and you can read this, then I’d really like to know you!

I’m just tip-toeing on the outskirts of helping someone find an assisted living facility for her to live well through and to the end of her days.  Both my parents are ganky (Japanese term for healthy and spry!) and all my aunts and uncles are too (we’re a very blessed family!) so I haven’t been in this situation before now.  Let me take a sidebar and say that just for the record, I hope that “we”–the collective we—have created much better options for community living situations than are available now.  With that said, I wrote recently about a non-profit group called, “A place for mom” that I stumbled upon that is staffed with volunteers who give their time to helping you to find just the right place for your important person.

Luckily, the good friend that I am helping to find a place has given me carte blanche permission to speak with her Physical Therapist, Doctors etc. so that I can ascertain her “activities of daily living” abilities etc.   I spoke with her PT today, who I immediately liked, and got all the information I needed to pursue finding her a final place to live.  I’d say a final resting place but I think that’s left for the funeral homes (so definitely don’t want to go there right now!).

So far, what I’m learning from this process is that I am very grateful that my friend is allowing some of us to help her and she is doing it in a way that doesn’t feel like we are carrying a burden for her.  In other words, she is not putting her “stuff” on us.  Because of her attitude and demeanor, she has inspired all of us to find just the right place for her as if this process were a game.  I’m not quite sure how she has done that, but I sure do feel like this investigation and discovery process is a game.

I am so grateful for the internet and the ability to find out what is available and screen for specifics of what my friend needs. With that said, I plan to spend lot’s of face-to-face time going to places and getting the “feel” for it.  This is where all my right brain attributes can come in handy!  I’ll have my handy check list of the specific needs that my friend has to be taken care of but I’ll also be engaging my intuition as well.

I’m not sure about the ins and outs for family members but if you’re helping a friend find an assisted living place here are some of the tips I’ve assembled thus far (thanks goes out to my Mom who is a retired Occupational Therapist!):

1.) Find out exactly what your friend wants you to help him/her with in this process;

2.) If you will be helping to find the right kind of facility get permission from your friend to speak with their Physical or Occupational Therapist, Doctors where necessary and Social Worker if available:

3.) Find out what their “activities of daily living” abilities are. OT’s are usually the therapists that administer this test but PT’s do this sometimes as well.  You need to know things such as how mobile they are; do they need help with administering their medications, do they need help bathing, do they have extra-curricular things they like to do such as art, are they a smoker, do they have specific dietary needs, etc.

4.) If they are “with it” like my friend who is only 63, then when you go look at facilities find out who the people are that will be part of his/her social community.  My friend has a keen mind, so having someone to have intellectual conversations with will be important to her.

5.) BUDGET: what is their monthly budget for housing/food/medicine/upkeep etc.

6.) Network, network, network — This is the time to engage with all kinds of people who you know, meet or come across in your communities. Gather as much information as you can.

7.) Pay-it-forward. Partly because paying it forward is the right thing to do and partly because there are bound to be numerous people in your same position who are floundering out here in the dark.
By working together we can help each other to help ourselves. And who knows, maybe by the time YOU are looking for a place that is right for you to live out your days….we will have created the perfect environment through all of our collective investigations, ideas and caring.

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