« Back to Blog

What to do after a health crisis

It’s no secret that as we age we face more health challenges.

Sometimes, we must deal with long-term conditions like osteoarthritis or high blood pressure. Other times, health issues take us by surprise – like broken bones from a fall. And then, there are life threatening emergencies such as heart attacks or strokes. 

Sudden health emergencies can change daily life – we may no longer be able to care for ourselves or move around our home. Our loved ones may have to take charge. And there are some things they can do during those first few days or weeks after a crisis.

Consult important legal documents

Depending on your loved one’s situation, you may want to review legal documents such as power of attorney or advance directives (living will). This will help you understand their preferences and can cut some of the stress that comes with making decisions.

Power of Attorney

A power of attorney document allows a person to select an “agent” (also called a “proxy” or “attorney-in-fact”) who has the legal authority to make decisions if that person becomes mentally or physically incapacitated. The agent should be someone trusted to always act in the principal’s best interest. It’s usually a spouse or partner, an adult child, a relative or close friend.

Durable Healthcare Power of Attorney

A durable healthcare power of attorney document (also called a healthcare proxy or healthcare surrogate) is a specific type of power of attorney that allows the agent to make healthcare-related decisions if needed.

Advanced Directive

Advance directives, also referred to as a living will, allow a person to make their medical-related preferences clear should they become terminally ill, seriously injured, in a coma, in the final stages of dementia, or near the end of their life. Essentially, advance directives offer written guidance to help navigate the care choices that healthcare providers and loved ones need to make.

These legal documents are only helpful if they have been created by the patient in advance of a health crisis. If you or your loved one has not yet created these important estate planning documents, contact an experienced attorney to help you.

Determine post-health crisis care logistics

Once your loved one’s health crisis is stabilized, you will need to consider where they’ll go next and who will care for them.

This is often one of the biggest challenges families face, both logistically and financially.

Where will you live?

Let’s first consider the question of where a person will receive the care they need following a health crisis. Depending on the level of care required, they may need to initially be cared for in a residential rehabilitation setting or assisted living community, or even in a skilled nursing facility, which is staffed 24/7 by healthcare providers. In other cases, the patient may be able to return to their own home, while others may need to relocate — temporarily or permanently — to another private residence.

Factors that must be considered in the “where” decision include logistics like the person’s level of mobility. Are they wheelchair-bound or otherwise unable to navigate stairs? If so, is there a stair-free entrance to the home or a ramp? Is there a bedroom and a bathroom on the ground floor? Will modifications need to be made to the home to make it accessible to the patient, particularly if their condition may be permanent, requiring a “new normal”?

Often a great option is a short-term rehab program. At Parsons Presbyterian Manor we offer PATH (Post-Acute to Home®) – a rehab therapy program that acts like a bridge for those recovering after a medical event such as injury, illness, or surgery. Click here to learn more about whether that could be a good option for you.

Who will care for you?

Next is the question of who will care for the patient. If your loved-one returns home or moves in with you, you can two options. You can pay for a full- or part-time professional caregiver and/or you can rely on unpaid care performed by friends and family. Some families choose one option or the other, though oftentimes, there will be a combination of both. But make no mistake: Unpaid care provided by loved ones is not free. More on this later…

With any scenario that involves paid care — either in a residential care community or in a private home — the costs can add up quickly. According to Genworth’s Cost of Care Survey for 2021, part-time  in-home care (44 hours/week) from a health aide averages $5,148 per month. The cost of full-time residential care could well-exceed the costs of facility-based care, with an assisted living community averaging $4,500 a month and a nursing home costing approximately $9,034 monthly. Although, the cost of facility-based care could sometimes be substantially higher in some areas. 

Coping with the emotional impacts of a health crisis

As the hours, weeks, or months pass following a health crisis, it is completely normal for the patient’s loved ones to feel a wide range of emotions — from fear and anxiety to sadness and grief. Frustration and anger are also common feelings during this time. The patient’s world has been turned upside down, and so has their loved ones' lives.

That’s why unpaid care provided by family members is certainly not free. People often assume that they will save money by relying on unpaid family caregivers versus paid care. But the reality is that the caregiver almost always pays a price — emotionally, physically, and even financially.

It is important to remember that while the patient is the focus during a health crisis, loved ones should not neglect their own well-being and self-care. Loved ones, and particularly caregivers, must continue to get sufficient sleep, remember to eat, take breaks, and ask for assistance when needed.

Proactively planning for “what if”

While it is difficult to ever be truly prepared for all of life’s “what if” scenarios, you can take certain steps to be as ready as possible for what life may throw at you.

At the top of this list is ensuring your estate planning documents — such as a will/trust, power of attorney, and advance directives — are completed and kept up to date. Having your wishes written down clearly and in detail can lift a huge burden off your loved ones’ shoulders.

Now may also be good time to plan for your senior housing needs. This could mean preparing to downsize to a more accessible home in case you lose some of your mobility. Or it could mean looking into a move to a senior living community. Having a plan can save your family members the stress of making difficult decisions about where you will live.

Finally, planning for your potential care needs can help protect your loved ones emotionally, physically, and financially. This may mean purchasing a long-term care insurance policy, which could cover many of the care costs. Or it may mean proactively moving to a continuing care retirement community like Parsons Presbyterian Manor, where residents have access to a higher level of care as their needs change.

We all hope that we’ll age healthfully with few medical issues but it’s wise to plan for the many “what ifs” life can throw at us. The steps listed above can alleviate some stress during a health crisis, for you and your family and loved ones.

If you’re facing a health crisis or want to be prepared for one, we can help you figure out the right steps for your situation. Contact us online or call Natae Nash, Senior Living Sales Specialist at 620-421-1450 or email her at

The above article is provided by myLifeSite and is legally licensed for use.

« Back to Blog