Elizabeth Moss, Founder and President of WholeCare Connections believes “We all deserve to be cared for and cared about. All my life I’ve been compelled to put other’s first, knowing that the quality of their life is directly related to their level of being cared for and the degree that they feel cared about. Pain and discomfort come in all forms. This is why I believe in practicing the type of care giving that meets our physical, emotional and spiritual needs. I, myself, have experienced good care and poor care within our health care system. When I’ve tried to do it all myself I only short change myself and my family. I know that making decisions about health care can become confusing during a crisis and in our complicated lives. Therefore, as my own personal journey led me to a place of healing, I promised that I would help take care of those unable to do so for themselves. I am especially dedicated to the elderly from whom I have learned the most.”

Q:I feel like I am always running to take one of my parents to the doctor, do their grocery shopping, or clean their house and do their laundry. There isn’t enough time to take care of my own house and family. I love them both but I am at my wits end. They don’t have any retirement except social security and I don’t have any extra money. Is there anyone in Nashville that can help?

A:Yes, there is help available. I would recommend talking with an Elder Law Attorney first. They can help you determine what the appropriate financial avenues are for your parents specific situation. Next you might want to consider qualifying for the CHOICES program which is a state Medicaid program providing Home & Community Based services for elders “in their home”.

There are some resources available for paying for care when elders have some assets that need to be spent prior to qualifying for Medicaid. One of those options are Reverse Mortages and the other is selling a portion of someone’s Life Insurance policy to pay for care.

Q:My mother, who is 87, lives by herself and still drives. Her reaction time isn’t as good as it used to be and I can see scratches and dents on her car where she has hit objects. What is the best way to approach the fact that she shouldn’t be driving?

A:The first step is to discuss your concerns with your Mom. Let her know you care and have noticed the evidence of mishaps on her car. Then, depending on her response to you, you might need to move forward with some other conversations. The first concern, of course, is to preserve her safety and dignity. This usually isn’t a cut and dried situation and considering all of the factors, it is important for all of us to have access to our communities so transportation services will need to be considered.

This is not an easy subject matter. It is, however, easier with some people than others and typically it is easier with women than men. You may need to consider the medications your mother is taking; there are limitations with several medications. Certain medications or combinations of medications can affect senses and reflexes. Always check the label on medications and double check with your mother’s healthcare team if she is taking several medications or if she notices a difference after starting a new medication. Her Pharmacist can help you determine if your Mom is on any medicines that compromise her driving safety and skills. If there is a diagnosis of any type of Dementia then there are some other considerations. Ask her Physician and/or Pharmacist about this.

Some questions to ask are what other modes of transportation are available? Is there public access, neighbors who are willing to volunteer to help or local churches that provide some level of transportation? Home Care agencies do provide transportation services on an individual’s chosen schedule. Many of these agencies will drive the client’s vehicle if needed or the caregiver can drive their own car. Mileage will be a consideration.

If retiring one’s driving privileges is the appropriate step, there are local Driving Coaches available who will meet with the elder, assess the individual situation and make a determination together. You can visit this site to learn more. AARP also offers a driving evaluation for elders. There is a charge for this program and they have local events at times. Or you can talk with your mother’s Physician. Once an order to stop driving has been written, it is illegal for the elder to drive.

Q:Dad has Alzheimer’s disease. He is living with us but it is getting harder to take care of him. What are my alternatives?

A:There are several alternatives. However there are a few questions to answer first. What are your Dad’s wishes? Have you discussed this with him? What kind of family support is in place? What are the financial resources that are available?

Then, depending on the answers to those questions, the various care opportunities are Home Care, Adult Day Care, Assisted Living with a Memory Care community, or Nursing Home care. There are several local options. You might want to consider a Geriatric Care Manager (GCM) to help with an assessment of your Dad’s unique situation. A GCM is a Registered Nurse or Social Worker who will do a comprehensive assessment and make recommendations to you. They can provide an ongoing service as a Consultant to the family acting as an advocate for you and be a liaison for your medical team.

The various levels of care for Alzheimer’s are offered in most local communities and learning about each one can be extremely time consuming. The GCM can also provide this research and narrow the number of visits for you when making a decision on Home care or a particular community.

Have a question for our expert? This line is open until Friday, May 4th. Our expert will then answer the top questions and we’ll post their answers right here and on our Facebook page.