Caring for Aging Parents, What you Should Know?

Below is an article written by Linda Ziac, founder of The Caregiver Resource Center in Greenwich.  Listen to Linda live on "Time to Talk with Jen Graziano" Wednesday March 1st at 9:30am on 1490 WGCH.



The Value of Care Planning 

While studies show that most seniors are healthy and function at a high level, it’s inevitable that as we grow older, issues will surface related to our health, safety, independence and quality of life.


Eldercare often requires a multi-disciplinary approach that encompasses many aspects of life such as healthcare, activities of daily living, transportation, finances, social, and emotional well-being.


To ensure the highest quality of life for the longest time possible, it’s crucial that seniors people with special needs, and their loved ones begin a dialogue to discuss the topic of aging. This process needs to focus on the person’s hopes and desires, short and long term goals, and their abilities and needs; while at the same time establishing a spectrum of resources that will address the person’s evolving needs.




All too often, Linda Ziac receives a call at The Caregiver Resource Center from a family telling her that they hired an agency or someone privately to provide caregiving services for a loved one, only to have things get much worse.


Well-meaning families often see that a senior or person with special needs is struggling, and quickly jump into action in an effort to help, without considering all the facts.  Instead of taking time to properly evaluate the person’s abilities, needs, and developing an appropriate care plan, the family hires a caregiver to come in and help. 




Evaluating a person’s care needs is like putting a jigsaw puzzle together.  The more pieces of the puzzle you have the clearer the picture.


Care for seniors and people with special needs often requires a multi-disciplinary team approach consisting of a variety of members such as the primary care physician, cardiologist, neurologist, physical therapist, occupational therapist, certified case manager, and caregiver, to name a few.


Linda often refer to the client’s team as being like an orchestra, with each member having a unique set of skills and talents that they bring to the group.  Linda’s role as a board certified case manager (CCM) and board Certified dementia practitioner (CDP)  is to serve as the conductor of the orchestra; ensuring that there is good communication, teamwork, and that everyone remains focused on the client and family's goals.


There are a number of steps involved in the development of a comprehensive care plan (road map) to help address a person’s current and evolving needs – the “what-ifs”.


To follow is an overview of four key steps in this process.

Step 1      The Senior's Wishes and Desires


The first step in this process is to talk with the senior in order to understand their feelings related to aging, as well as their wishes and desires moving forward.  It’s important to recognize the senior's right to make their own choices related to their care; even if you don't agree.


To the extent possible, it’s important to initiate this dialogue as soon as possible, and hopefully while the senior is able to openly voice their current and future wishes and desires. Of course, this won't always be possible, so if you encounter resistance or difficulties, you may want to seek assistance from a professional to help facilitate the process.


Step 2      Obtaining an Assessment


Before you can begin to develop an appropriate care plan for a senior, it’s first necessary to determine the senior's ability to remain safely independent, along with their strengths, weaknesses, and areas of concern. The best way to determine the needs of a person is by means of a Comprehensive Geriatric Assessment, which can be provided by a number of trained professionals, including a board certified case manager.


A Comprehensive Geriatric Assessment is a multidimensional diagnostic process designed to evaluate the person's medical, mental, physical, social, environmental, and financial status.


This process is used to determine the seniors’ capabilities, and will be used as a baseline, for moving forward in the development of an individual care plan.


Step 3      Developing a Care Plan


Once the person has undergone a comprehensive assessment, the information obtained will be used to design a care plan (road map). 


Step 4  Important Legal Documents


Have you ever wondered what would happen if a person became incapacitated, and was unable to communicate their wishes, related to their medical care or financial affairs?


All too often a person becomes incapacitated, and their family scrambles to locate important financial and legal documents, in an effort to ensure that they receive necessary care. You may not even be sure if the senior ever put their wishes in writing.


What now! Unfortunately, if the senior has not taken a pro-active approach prior to this point, their loved ones are bound to face a very stressful and overwhelming task.


It doesn't take much, for a senior and their loved ones, to ensure that all their personal affairs are in place. By having an attorney, prepare a set of documents in advance, the senior or person with special needs can ensure that their wishes will be honored.


The Role of a Board Certified Case Manager (CCM)


Certified Case Managers (CCM) are specialists who assist seniors, people with special needs and their families; in planning for and implementing ways to allow for the greatest degree of health, independence, safety and quality of life.


CCMs meet with the client and /or family members to assess their needs, develop a Care Team, and work with members of the Team to formulate a comprehensive Care Plan (a road map).


Once a plan is in place, CCMs are available to serve as the point person to monitor and coordinate services, and revise the plan as needed. The CCMs' role is similar to the conductor of an orchestra; ensuring that there is good communication, teamwork, and that everyone remains focused on the desired goals.


To learn more, visit The Caregiver Resource Center at


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