Last November, my patient Eleanor arrived for a routine appointment and immediately informed me that she had moved to an independent living (retirement) community. I was taken by complete surprise, as we had not spoken about her need or desire to move on any of our previous visits. I thought it was a great idea, and I asked how and why she had made her decision. She told me that as a widow she was used to making her own decisions and, although she has a niece who helps her with things, she felt that she could make this choice herself. I asked her what motivated her to move to this particular facility. She explained, “a friend moved there two or three years ago and she has invited me to dine with her on several occasions. I discovered it was a very nice retirement community and decided that when the time came I would move there. Doctor Bernstein, the time came last month, and I moved in.”
I have faced a major challenge with several of my patients, who have delayed the decision to move from an independent home to a retirement community or assisted living facility. A few of them have had the choice of moving into an Independent living community where they could have their own apartment, with meals provided. There they could keep their car or use transportation provided by the community. In many of these situations I had offered plenty of lead-time and guidance. But in some of those cases, the patient chose to stay at home or just could not make a decision, in one case for more than a year.
Most of these families had support systems to help and encourage them, but to no avail. With each month of delay I observed my patients becoming more and more frail. In many cases, I watched in vain as the opportunity for action evaporated. Their condition deteriorated leading to a hospitalization and, ultimately, placement in a rehab facility. They thereby missed the chance to choose a facility on their own terms.
How do these scenarios apply to you or someone in your family? When is it time to take action before it is too late?
In my next blog, I will explore this problem further. Stay tuned!
To living a long & healthy life…
David Bernstein, MD