alternatives to/improvements on nursing home care in the NY/NJ/CT area for an elderly person with disabilities
January 12, 2005 8:22 AM   Subscribe

I’m looking for alternatives to/improvements on nursing home care in the NY/NJ/CT area for an elderly person with disabilities. [+]

I am my father’s legal guardian. He has mild multiple sclerosis, and uses a wheelchair to get around. He also has early-stage dementia: very poor short-term memory, poor judgment, mood swings, etc. He needs 24-hour supervision because he can’t manage his meds alone, needs help with personal care, and periodically tries to walk unaided or otherwise put himself in danger of a fall.

He is currently in a nursing home in NH, which provides for his physical needs but little else: he gets very little social contact except for visits from family, and this is the only mental stimulation that seems valuable to him (he can’t read well due to the memory problems; he doesn’t watch TV; he used to love listening to music but seems to have no initiative to do so now). I also fear that he is undergoing a process of learned helplessness. He seems content to let the staff of the nursing home do almost everything for him; and they fulfill this wish because it’s faster for the overworked nurses to do things like put on his pants for him than to help him do it himself. I’ve attempted to set things up so that he gets as much mental stimulation as possible, but it seems there’s only so much I can do within the framework of the institution. I’m afraid that his mental decline is going to be hastened by these factors, and he’s only 71.

Within the next year, I’m going to be moving from Massachusetts to NYC, and my father wants to move as well so he’ll be close to me and other family members. I’m hoping this will be a good opportunity to find a better living arrangement for him. The elderly services I’ve been able to investigate so far don’t seem to offer anything different from what he’s getting now: there seems to be a model for elderly care that runs from retirement communities to assisted living to nursing homes, with little variation in the services they provide.

I’m wondering if anyone has any experience with either a) facilities for the elderly/physically disabled that might be off the map and provide more personalized, creative care; or b) a way to create a care plan for him individually, either by adding services to what he receives from a nursing home, or with him living in a private apartment with aides. My main goal is to provide him with more meaningful day-to-day social contact, and to put him in a situation where the staff is committed to keeping him as independent as possible. Money is definitely an object – he’s on Medicaid right now. However, since Medicaid laws differ from state to state, I’m happy to do the research on financial viability if anyone has any leads at all – even nursing homes with good visiting volunteer programs would be better than what is available to him in NH. Thanks for reading this opus; any advice/discussion of these issues is welcome.
posted by hilatron to Health & Fitness (1 answer total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Call Concepts of Independence, a consumer directed personal assistant program, at (212) 293-9999 and ask for an information packet. Unlike the traditional vendor model, this program allows you to hire, train, supervise, schedule, and fire your own attendants.

They serve New York City, but similar programs are starting to pop up in other counties. It used to be they only accepted people with disabilities who were deemed independent and self-directing, but these days they also have a Surrogate option where someone else can take care of the management of attendants, paperwork, etc.
posted by Soliloquy at 9:34 AM on January 12, 2005

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