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 and emotional?
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. In the intervening years, in addition to schooling, most of what I’ve learned is through accompanying many hundreds of families through the last years of life. I have written nearly 400 columns, many timeless, on what I have learned along the way for WRAL’s Aging Well.
I intimately understand the needs, the resources available, and 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. I am experienced with dementia, addiction issues, mood disorders, hoarding, elder financial abuse, and complex family dynamics. I’m familiar with the many individuals and companies working in this space (from geriatric physicians to senior move managers, from mobile attorneys to auction houses, from pharmacies offering senior medication packaging to handymen to trustworthy financial managers).
One critical lesson I have learned doing this (often emotionally heightened) work is the importance of bringing a calm steadiness to the table. As part of being a Certified Teacher of Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction through Brown University’s Center for Mindfulness, I maintain a daily meditation practice myself and have for nearly 30 years.
We can speak by phone, Zoom, or I can come to your home, a rehab or the hospital (depending on distance).
Importantly, I am independent. I take no referral fees and therefore am not incentivized to recommend any resources, but those my clients attest are top-notch. References are available, on request.