By: Rana Goodman/ Political Editor
With the new year, we will be turning several new pages in where we see our senior advocacy going. These changes hopefully will allow seniors in need of a safer, happier place if, they need assistance of any kind.
I started to tell you about our Elder Hub concept in another column, let me tell you more now. With the help of some of our volunteers, we will soon begin collecting information to begin listings for our “4 Rs” - “Resources, Review, Referrals & References.”
In the past, we have been contacted on a regular basis for referrals to care facilities, attorneys, assisted living communities, group homes and such. Our idea and plan is to have a team of our volunteers check out all senior facilities - including cleanliness, care, costs and treatment of residents, etc. and make up a referral directory.
Since we don’t charge or accepts payment from these places, we intend to rate them much like “Consumer Reports.” We DO however have a “dog in the fight.” We want seniors treated well, not over medicated, and living in facilities they want to be in - not where they MUST be.
A year ago, I wrote about my visit to a senior care facility. I was impressed by, not only the attentive care they gave their residents, but also the kind and thoughtful little things the staff did to make some of them feel they were not alone.
For example, I was told that when residents did not receive mail from anyone, the management sends them cards and notes, so they didn’t feel left out when other residents received mail from friends and family. I think everyone can agree that little kindness goes a long way, especially to a lonely, elderly person.
Another initiative we are pursuing in guardianship reform is “supported decision making” (SDM) as an alternative to guardianship. This is something that was passed into law in Texas in 2015 and is being discussed by several judges with whom I served on the guardianship commission.
Supported Decision Making is quite complex, but basically the court agrees to allow a person who may have some dementia, or need help with some things, to agree to having a person of THEIR choosing as a helper with important decisions. Things such as banking, buying items above a certain amount, etc. – all instead of guardianship.
The person remains in their own home, runs their own life and their support person is of their choosing, not the courts. This is quite different from having a guardian and they keep their dignity!
I will have more information at our Guardianship seminars and in future columns.