There comes a time when every family has to contemplate senior living facilities for their seniors. But, is it the right time to think about that decision? This post should help you make and navigate that decision with ease.
Signs It’s Time to Move to an Assisted Living
Worsening Medical Conditions
There are various telltale signs that your loved one may need to move to assisted living. With advancing age, it’s possible that many chronic conditions may develop. Issues like diabetes, heart disease, and Alzheimer’s are the most common on the list. With advancing age, seniors would need an increasing amount of medical supervision.
If the number of visits to the doctor has increased recently and if the medical emergencies are also getting common, it’s a sign that your seniors are better off in an assisted facility. If your loved one is at a later stage of Alzheimer’s disease, you may want to seriously consider moving them to an Alzheimer’s care facility. There they will get full medical supervision and care which is not possible at home.
Some aging seniors may lose their ability to keep track of and manage their finances. Bills from insurance companies and bankers may pile up. Not to mention, memory issues can take a toll on their thinking ability and handle complex number processing.
This can come in the way of their doing taxes or managing bills. On top of that, the possibility of financial scams by telemarketers and even family members is also high. These scams can take away their ability to live on their own.
Isolation and loneliness are common during old age. Below are a few signs of increasing isolation –
- Depression – Being cut off from their peers and a lack of sense of community can fuel depression. This can increase the chances of heart disease, dementia, and several other physical conditions.
- Addiction – Isolation is a huge factor that can trigger bad habits like smoking, drinking, abuse of opioids, etc.
- Mortality – Isolation is in direct relation to increased rates of mortality. Check out this study for more information.
Messy Living Space
Sometimes, the living conditions of your seniors may get so worse that they fail to vacuum or clean the house regularly. They may stop doing dishes regularly or leaving them in the dishwasher. Take a good look at their fridge.
What are they eating? Do you see a lot of expired food? Is there the same food from the same restaurant? Do you see a lack of healthy food choices? All of these are signs that the senior is perhaps no longer able to cook, eat healthy meals, or maintain general physical health.
Poor Hygiene and Frailty
If you notice a bad odor coming off of your seniors or messy grooming, this is another indication. Perhaps they have stopped bathing as frequently or have stopped doing the laundry.
All these are signs that they can no longer care for themselves properly. Any signs of looking frailer, skinnier, or weaker mean they are not eating properly.
Talking to Your Aging Parents About the Move
Having the ‘talk’ with your parents about moving to assisted living communities can be rather challenging and intimidating. But, once you have reached that level of confidence, it pays to have a few pointers up your sleeve. The tips below should help you have a healthy productive conversation about the move –
- Pick the Right Time (Preferably at the Earliest) – Do not wait for the situation to get worse. Because at that time things can get out of hand. Try to talk as early as possible so that you have enough time to start planning and make all the right decisions. The pressure will also be a lot less on everyone involved.
- Try to Talk in Person – It is better to have this conversation in private rather than over the phone or getting someone else to exchange the message. Be sure to pick a location and time that is convenient for both. Also, make sure there are no distractions at the time of conversation. Pick a time when all the parties are relaxed, well-rested, and in a healthy frame of mind.
- Be Attention and Listen Carefully – During the conversation don’t just focus on talking. Pay attention and listen to your seniors. It’s normal to have doubts, objections, and apprehensions about the move. Do not discount those fears and feelings.
Listen to them and ask questions to understand their mindset. This will help you come up with strategies to ease their anxieties.
- Show Empathy, not Sympathy – Instead of feeling sorry for them (which no one wants), it is better if you try to understand them. Try to be in their shoes. Listen to them. Your body language, voice, and overall demeanor will show that you care about them. The first step in helping your seniors is by listening to them.
- Plan a Visit to the Community – Planning a physical or virtual tour is the quickest way to alleviate any worries or apprehensions your seniors may have about the move. Once they get the feel of the community, amenities, lifestyle, neighbors, staff, facilities, and the overall vibe – their resistance may fade away.
- In the End, the Decision is Theirs – Eventually, your parents decide whether they want in-home care or to live in a community, whether it is an independent living, assisted living, or specialized memory care home. The only exception to this rule is when they are mentally incapacitated. In that case, you get complete autonomy over this decision.
Supporting Your Loved Ones in Living Independently
- Acknowledge Their Feelings – It’s normal to feel a sense of loss when your senior is leaving them home and moving somewhere else. Those feelings of grief are normal and you should not discount them. Respect those feelings and sympathize with them. Give them space and time to adjust to a new lifestyle and surroundings.
- Give Them Control and Autonomy – Let them make as many important decisions as possible. For example, allow them to pick a facility of their choosing. Let them know which activities they want to pick as well as their belongings. The more autonomy they can exercise, the more they will feel in control.
- Call/visit as Frequently as Possible – It can take about 1-3 months for a person to get acclimated to new surroundings. During that time, it’s paramount that you stay in touch either via regular calls or visits.
Whenever you plan a family outing, be sure to invite them. This will help ease the transition phase and make it most comfortable. It also sends a message that you are there for them.
The decision to move to senior living communities is a crucial and often challenging one. But, when you know how to prepare for it – you can make this often uncomfortable process quite easy. Just follow along with the tips mentioned and you should be fine.
Oppositely, consider reading about: A Basic Guide to Taking Care of the Elderly