BUFFALO (WKBW) — Finding the best living option for our loved ones as they age can be a difficult journey. We want our family members to have the best care that supports their mental and physical well-being. But what is the right choice? Local experts shared their thoughts with us.
"What I think people need to try and understand is that before you can figure out what you need from someone else, you need to define that for yourself", says Kelley Klem, Vice President of Patient Advocacy at Hospice and Palliative Care Buffalo.
Klem suggests that families begin by identifying the type and level of care needed for your loved one ranging from independent living options, to assisted living communities, to nursing homes. The fact that finding care is not a one size fits all solution only adds to the stress.
"It's very difficult and individualized", added Klem. "Anyone who tries to approach it from an algorithm or a cookie cutter standpoint are going to be more confused from when they started".
That's why Hospice and Palliative Care Buffalo, and People Inc. are among the many organizations in Western New York that not only offer services and facilities, but also advocacy for families.
"We have an affiliation with Erie County Senior Services", says Alicia Lombardo, Case Management Coordinator at People Inc., which offers subsidized independent senior living apartments. "We help seniors that live in People Inc. housing and also try and guide them as they look to assisted living and ultimately nursing homes. We don't offer recommendations but try and link them with resources to carry on the rest of their lives".
On,ce the type of care is chosen families must then navigate the cost. A cost that can range from around $25-$40 an hour for an in home companion, to upwards of $10,000 a month at a nursing home.
"The cost in astronomical", said Klem. "It is very competitive locally. You might think 'If I call four more places I can get a better deal', they pretty much all follow the same pattern"
Local experts suggest talking with friends and community members about their experiences and ideas, and be ahead of the game when it comes to securing care.
"I would recommend starting early", says Sarah Bohnstadt, Senior Living Policy Administrator at People Inc. "There are wait lists and application processes. You want to start early before there is an emergency".
"Recognize this is not an indication that you are not capable", added Klem. "It's not an indication that yo udon't love the person or you are not willing to sacrifice. It's simply the recognition that in order for you to maintain that relationship and make sure you're loved one is cared for that you do need help".
Here is a list of local resources to help in the process of finding the best care for your loved one:
Erie County Senior Services
Niagara County Office for the Aging
Erie County NY Connects
Niagara County NY Connects
Hospice & Palliative Care Buffalo
Alzheimer's Association Western New York Chapter
Elder Care Solutions of WNY
Geriatric Care Managers of Western New York
HANCI (Health Association of Niagara County, Inc.)