Jane Glenn Haas
April 9, 2010
Paul Hogan grew up with caregiving.
When his grandmother fell ill, his mother cheerfully told her siblings she would provide care.
"The family felt my grandmother might live a year, at most. She was so weak," Hogan recalls. "Well, the year turned into 11, plus another 10 years of relative independence with limited assistance, companionship and light housekeeping for my grandmother."
His grandmother was near 101 when she died.
As he notes, a few decades ago there were really only two choices for protecting older adults in their declining years: in the family home or in a nursing home.
And if the family home was chosen, "children caring for them were often stretched beyond their physical, financial and emotional capabilities," he says, while the nursing home choice often left the senior feeling abandoned and the family feeling anxious.
Hogan is among those who have made a significant change available for families. He is founder of Home Instead Senior Care, the world's largest network of local franchise offices that send caregivers into homes to provide non-medical services, from light housekeeping to companionship and moral support.
Now he and his wife, Lori, have co-authored "Stages of Senior Care," ( McGraw-Hill 2009), a step-by-step guidebook for families and seniors.
Q. I'll admit I'm impressed. Most senior care books focus on one or two stages - assisted living and nursing homes, for example. Your book tells people first to check out community services and ends with hospice and end-of-life choices. You cover the gamut.
A. One of the big reasons we wrote the book is that the majority of people don't know all of their options - who pays for what? Is there government assistance? Should I have long-term care insurance or a reverse mortgage? In honesty, the majority of people are not doing any planning for their old age. And there are many cost-effective decisions that can help you stay in your home a few years longer.
Q. Do you consider the book a public service?
A. Yes. The proceeds all go to the Home Instead Senior Care Foundation. Our goal is to help people know what questions to ask, explore options and also face the need to plan.
Q. One of the sections that I rarely see discussed talks about coping with difficult relationships. You say if you have a strained relationship with a mother or father, chances are things will only get worse if you become the caregiver.
A. Yes, we talk about setting boundaries, about avoiding conversations with a parent that "get your buttons pushed." Again, getting the right options or the right caregiver can make a difference. Caregivers need to be able to avoid guilt trips. That can contribute to the caregiver ending up with worse health conditions than the person they care for.
Q. Your sections on funeral costs and dealing with bereavement are unusual to find in a book on senior care.
A. This book is all about the realities of senior care. It does no good to duck the obvious end-of-life issues.
Q. And for more information?
A. Go to http://stagesofseniorcare.com.
Q. One last question: Who is easier to care for - men or women?
A. Well, two-thirds of our clients are female. I don't know that there's much difference.
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