AARP: Minnesota is #1 in Meeting Older Residents' Long Term Care Needs

Updated: 07/14/2014 7:13 PM
Created: 07/14/2014 12:33 PM
By: Josh Rosenthal

Minnesota is as good as it gets when it comes to meeting older residents' long term care needs, according to a new report from AARP.

Overall, Minnesota is ranked number one in the state by state breakdown. Breaking it down further, Minnesota ranked number three in affordability and access, number one in choice of setting and provider, number one in quality of life and quality of care, number three in support for family caregivers, and number 12 in effective transitions.

Of course, that doesn't mean it's easy to help an aging loved one who can no longer care for themselves, even in Minnesota.

"I'm finding a lot of old pictures and things, brings back a lot of memories," Cindy Anderson said while packing up her mom's condo. Her mom, 88-year-old Gladys Nelson, suffers from dementia. She just moved to what's called a memory care facility, which is similar to assisted living but geared toward people suffering from memory loss.

"She wasn't happy about it," Anderson said. "She had tears, she had sadness, but she also, I'm sure, had fear because it was all new to her."

In a way, the whole situation was also new to Anderson.

"You become a parent, and they don't want to lose that," she explained. "They're the parent, but you do become the parent and they're the child."

"Seniors aren't different than younger folks. It's the sense of my role in the family," said Dr. Tom von Sternberg, a geriatrician at Health Partners, which provides care to thousands of seniors across Minnesota. Von Sternberg deals with situations similar to what Anderson and her mom are going through on an almost-daily basis.

"At the end of the day," he said, "the individual will not want to be a burden and so no matter how well intentioned we are about saying, 'mom, don't worry, I'm happy to help,' mom will still view extra help as being a burden on someone."

That's a feeling that sticks around even if you do live in a state that's great at supporting older residents' long term care needs. It's a feeling that persists even when you've got a loving family. In fact, if you ask Anderson, you'll learn it's that love that makes this whole process so tough.

"Hardest thing I've ever done in my life," she said. "The hardest thing I've ever had to do in my life, and I wouldn't wish it on anyone."

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