Yes, our senior loved ones – like us — want to live at home as they age.
Sometimes that home may be a new location or the home in which they have lived most of their adult lives.
Comfort with our belongings, familiarity with the community, closeness of family or friends, access to trusted healthcare providers, or an aversion to change are some of the many reasons seniors and family caregivers prefer to stay ‘at home.’
The reality for some older adults is that home, or at least their preferred home, may not be the best choice as their aging needs change. Their independence may be threatened by health, mobility, cognition, finances, or lack of caregiving support.
In fact, about two-thirds of people over 65 need some type of long term care health services as they age.
What comes next?
How can family caregivers help their senior loved ones transition to the next chapter in their lives?
When Independence Is No Longer Possible
No one wants to leave their home, but sometimes the safety and well-being of our senior loved ones means this is the best choice for them.
Family caregivers have not failed if a transition becomes necessary but instead are being proactive.
A crisis is not the time to be making decisions of this importance. Planning and preparation can help ease the impact and ensure ours seniors’ wants and needs are met in their new ‘home.’
Here are some considerations if you are facing this transition decision:
- The variety of options available to your senior, such as in-home care, senior living community, assisted living center, long term care facility, continuing care retirement community, independent living, memory care center, or adult group home/personal care home can be complex. Each has benefits and drawbacks and may or may not be a good fit for your senior.
- What financial arrangements are needed for the option which meets your senior’s needs? Are there funds available to finance their choice? Is there a home that can be sold to help pay for the next place, pension income, personal savings, long term care insurance, or Veterans Aid that can be used to pay? Most of these options are private pay and not funded by Medicare. Each setting has a different pay structure and you may find some are not affordable for your senior unless adequate funds have been set aside for care.
- When deciding on the next phase of living, include your senior loved one in the decision-making process as much as possible.
- Visit locations, investigate staffing, check the menu and activities calendar, and any other amenities that are important for your senior and the rest of the family. Does the location feel comfortable and welcoming? Is it clean, are the residents well kept, is safety a priority, will transportation be available, who manages medications, can you bring a pet, is a beauty shop on premises, who pays for phone and cable, is broadband available for technology, is smoking allowed (especially if your senior doesn’t want it), and can you have visitors, including overnight guests?
- What are their rules? Is there a complaint process? Is there a bill of rights posted? What happens if your senior doesn’t continue to qualify due to decline, what is the process for moving to the next level, is eviction possible?
You can compare different facilities in your area using www.medicare.gov and select the type and quality of the facility you desire. This could help narrow down the list before you make your visits.
The National Center for Assisted Living has a Checklist for Consumers and Prospective Residents that is very detailed. It can help family caregivers determine which questions to ask in any facility type you are considering and how to evaluate the options.
Planning ahead to leave a beloved home when independence is no longer possible and reacting before a crisis occurs will help make an often difficult and stressful transition smoother for seniors and their family caregivers.