Aging in place is what most seniors and boomers say is desired – the ability to stay in our homes forever. Unfortunately, the reality of aging does not always allow our older loved ones to remain safely in their own homes as long as they would like.
Many family members think the next step is a nursing home for their senior loved ones, but that’s not the case for many.
What options are there for seniors when we think that they need a bit more help? Maybe they have already tried in-home professional caregivers but you are still worried about their safety, especially when the caregivers go home.
Maybe your senior loved one is like the many who need more around the clock supervision but are not yet ready – and don’t need – to stay in a nursing home.
Signs It Might Be Time to Consider Assisted Living
- Frequent falling. Has your senior loved one been falling more? Are you worried about him injuring himself when he is alone? Has your senior been wandering and you fear they may get lost?
- Medication mismanagement. Does your senior miss some of her medications or are you afraid that she is taking wrong dosages at wrong times? Is there a need for someone to oversee medications everyday, not just when an in-home caregiver is present?
- Unwanted weight loss. Is your senior losing weight because they don’t want to shop, prepare or eat food by themselves? Are you worried that they will turn on the stove and forget to turn it off and start a fire? Is there spoiled food in the fridge or a freezer full of meals people brought but are never eaten?
- Recent illness. Is your senior recovering from an illness (perhaps too slowly), recovering from a trauma such as a fracture or is her chronic disease running out of control?
- Depression and loneliness. Does your senior seem to be sad, isolated and lonely? Do they spend a lot of time in bed, do they refuse to go out or accept company, or are they tearful or just bored?
- Personal care. Does your older loved one wear the same clothes day in and day out? Are they showering or shaving regularly? Do they have a body odor or unkempt hair that indicate lack of personal care?
- Finances. Is your senior paying the bills? Are they getting and opening their mail? Are you worried that they might be victims of scams or someone taking advantage of them?
- Car trouble. Are there new scratches and dents on the car? Have they been in a fender bender? Are you worried that they are unsafe behind the wheel? Can they find their way home if they go out for a drive alone?
After a thoughtful review of the condition of your senior loved one and her/his home and care needs as well as having a family conference (if there are other members who ought to agree on a course of action), maybe you have decided to move your senior to an assisted living facility.
Selecting the Right Assisted Living Facility
Assisted living facilities provide a variety of different care options and level of service each with an added cost for the service. Some are fancier than others. Generally assisted living situations are private pay with only a few that accept Medicaid if your senior is eligible. You should expect to pay for the services of this type of facility.
Before starting the process of selecting the right assisted living facility, make a list of the criteria that are important. What needs of your senior loved one will they have to meet? What features are wanted or unwanted? Knowing what’s important may save a costly and difficult move later.
We suggest checking out a few facilities and learning what services are available to meet your needs. Visit the facility, understand the services offered and ask about the policies of the facility to be sure that they align with your wishes and values. Ask the facility how they will handle medical emergencies, are they qualified to perform CPR or the Heimlich maneuver if your senior choked on dinner, will they change wound dressings, what happens if your senior needs help eating, and what happens when your senior declines further. How do they handle these inevitable situations?
Assisted Living Services
Your senior should expect to have a staff member deliver medications on schedule, receive hot meals, be provided housekeeping and laundry services, transportation to shopping and appointments (especially medical care), access to a variety of activities to interact with peers and form new friendships, relief of loneliness and boredom, security in case of wandering, access to emergency call system, amenities such as beauty shop, pharmacy, mail, exercise equipment, and assistance with activities of daily living all provided in a comfortable living environment.
Don’t be surprised if your senior loved one is reluctant to move to an assisted living facility. Naturally they want to stay in their home. As much as possible, make it their decision by involving them from the beginning. Take them to visit the properties and make a selection. Your difficulty, of course, comes if they resist the change but everyone knows it is the right thing for them.
Once the move takes place and they are settled, we’ve found that most seniors love their new homes. They enjoy the socialization and all the new activities. They are often relieved with no longer having to care for home maintenance or housework. The pressure is off for you too as you get peace of mind that someone is watching out for your senior at all hours.
The years spent in assisted living instead of a nursing home when it is feasible can be years of wonderful memories for the entire family. Good luck to your and your senior loved one!