South Florida Sun Sentinel Features SeniorBridge's Rona Bartelstone's Experience Supporting Families During Holiday Wake Up Calls About the Need for Elder Care
One of the leading newspapers in Southern Florida recently published an article about the opportunity families ahve to fact-find about the wishes and needs of aging loved ones during the holidays. The article includes commentary by SeniorBridge's Rona S. Bartelstone, LCSW, MSW, CMC, Senior Vice President of Care Management, about the surprise many families face during holiday gatherings when they see Mom, Dad or another loved one may need more help then they admitted to over the phone.
An excerpt is below. To read the full text, click here.
As your family gathers around the Thanksgiving table, what better time for a nice conversation about aging, living wills and possibly having to stop driving?
"Our message is that the conversations always are difficult to have. But the worst time to have them is when there's a crisis," said Paul Malley, president of Aging with Dignity, which created the Five Wishes living will form.
Rona Bartelstone of SeniorBridge, a nationwide company that coordinates elder services and care, said calls there always go up after a major holiday.
"A lot of the time, the aging parents have been saying everything is fine. Then the children come down for a visit and say, 'Oh my god,'" said Bartelstone, of Fort Lauderdale, the senior vice president of care management.
In its latest electronic newsletter, Fort Lauderdale-based Today's Caregiver magazine suggests families call a Thanksgiving "board of directors" meeting to go over all the documents that someone would need if an older relative suddenly became seriously ill or died.
Jacquelyn Browne, director of the gerontology master's program at Nova Southeastern University, said often our own complicated emotions about aging are what make these discussions difficult. And acknowledging those feelings when broaching the topic can help.
Lynn Feinberg, a senior policy advisor with AARP's Public Policy Institute, suggests treating a Thanksgiving visit as a fact-finding mission, making plans to return soon if necessary, rather than hashing things out over the pumpkin pie.