Only 25 percent of people older than 65 believe they will need any help in their later years, yet 70 percent do. The average senior needs some amount of help for the last eight years of life. Men need significant help for an average of 2.2 years and women for 3.6 years.
Consequently, when a health crisis strikes and no plan is in place, things can unravel quickly, particularly if there are no involved family members available to step in. Nearly 20 percent of elders have no family to call on in an emergency.
How is one to respond wisely in a crisis, particularly if the territory is unfamiliar?
It’s a question I myself asked when balancing full-time work, raising three young children and helping care for my husband’s parents as they declined. Some of what I learned through those experiences, I wrote about for the New York Times. Not long after Pop passed away, I returned to school to gain the certifications needed to help other families navigate this territory.
My name is Liisa Ogburn (yes, that spelling is correct. I’m half Finnish) and my firm, Aging Advisors NC, helps individuals and their families plan for or respond to the needs that arise during the last years of life. I have worked with over 320 families since starting my business in 2016 and accompanied over 80 of these families through the end of life of their loved one. I have written 360 columns on what I have learned along the way for WRAL’s Aging Well.
I intimately understand the needs, the resources available (free, low-cost and for a cost), how to navigate crises, such as a hospitalization, skilled rehab, leaving home, and choosing a retirement community (Independent Living, Assisted Living, Memory Care, Skilled Nursing, Family Care Homes, and Continuing Care Retirement Communities) from the 100+ options in the wider Triangle area. Additionally, I have worked with families in which a loved one is declining with dementia, addiction issues, mood disorders, hoarding, elder financial abuse, and complex family dynamics. I have helped people navigate Medicare, Medicaid and the Long Term Care Insurance claim process. I’m familiar with the many individuals and companies working in this space (from geriatric physicians to senior move managers, from elder estate attorneys to auction houses, from pharmacies offering senior medication packaging to handymen specializing in grab bars and ramps).
One critical lesson I have learned doing this (often emotionally heightened) work is the importance of bringing a calm steadiness to the table. Where appropriate, I use what I am learning as I become certified to teach Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction through Brown University’s Center for Mindfulness.
We can speak by phone, Zoom, or I can come to your home (depending on distance).
Importantly, I am independent. I take no referral fees and therefore am not incentivized to recommend resource over another. References are available, on request.
- “Living to the Edge of the Frame, Even as the Frame Narrows,” Keynote Speaker for 2023 Older Americans Month (sponsored by the NC Office of State Human Resources). Online.
- “How to Support Your Aging Parents (and care for yourself) During Their Last Years.” White Memorial Presbytarian Church, Raleigh, NC.