Minding our Elders: Son should talk to professionals about father's wandering habit
Dear Carol: Could you direct me to someone that may be able to help my friend in Minneapolis? His elderly father lives in Fargo, and recently there have been some events with his father that have the son very concerned. The father goes missing fo...
Dear Carol: Could you direct me to someone that may be able to help my friend in Minneapolis? His elderly father lives in Fargo, and recently there have been some events with his father that have the son very concerned. The father goes missing for hours/days out of the assisted living center. I'm not sure of all the details, but I do think he needs someone to talk to. Anything you can direct me to would be a great help. - Disturbed
Dear Disturbed: First, I would ask your friend if he has talked with the facility personnel. There are many levels of care, so the first step, when someone has a concern such as this, is to talk with a supervisor in the facility. It's possible that this is a retirement facility and his leaving without notice is OK. However, it's also possible that the father should be reassessed to see if he needs a different level of care.
If your friend doesn't get the answers he needs, he may want to talk with a third party. The area ombudsman is a likely advocate. An ombudsman is an independent consumer advocate who handles complaints against the government or government regulated agencies. Elder care facilities qualify for help from ombudsmen. I checked with the regional people on the Cass County side and this is the answer I received.
"Individuals who need assistance in assisted living facilities and other long-term care facilities, along with their family members, can obtain help sorting through issues and concerns about care and resident's rights by contacting their Regional Long-Term Care Ombudsman Program or State Long-Term Care Ombudsman program.
"In the Fargo region, individuals and their families can contact Regional Long-Term Care Ombudsman Bryan Fredrickson, LSW at Southeast Human Service Center, 2624 9th Ave. S.W., Fargo. The phone number is (701) 298-4413 or (888) 342-4900. Bryan provides information and assistance in the following North Dakota counties: Barnes, Cass, Dickey, Foster, Griggs, LaMoure, Logan, McIntosh, Ransom, Richland, Steele, Stutsman, Traill and Wells.
"The State Long-Term Care Ombudsman Program can be reached by calling (701) 328-4617 or (800) 451-8693. The Long-Term Care Ombudsman Program is administered by the N.D. Department of Human Services."
I would like to add, for Minnesota readers, that you can call Darlene Weber at (218) 573-2214 or toll-free (800) 657-3591. Services can be quite different in the different states.
Remember though, check with the facility first. It's only fair to let them explain a situation and correct it if something needs to be done differently.
Bursack is the author of a book on family elder care. To submit questions to "Minding Our Elders" and view past columns, go to www.in-forum.com and click on Special Projects, then Elder Care. Readers can reach Bursack at firstname.lastname@example.org or write her at The Forum, Box 2020, Fargo, ND 58107.