At some point in many families’ lives, they’ll have to address a momentous elephant in the room: Whether it’s time to move a loved one to a senior housing community. It’s often a difficult subject because of the popular belief that if you truly love someone, just bring them to live with you. And while that’s certainly an option for some people, it’s not practical for others.
The reality is that full-time jobs, raising children, and other responsibilities can sometimes make it impossible to provide a loved one with assisted care around the clock. Therefore, despite how difficult the decision may be, sometimes, the best course of action is to look into moving to an assisted living facility. If your loved one is used to being an independent individual, the decision may be overwhelming for them as well as for other members of the family.
What is Assisted Living?
An assisted living community is one where residents require custodial care. For example, someone who needs assistance with their activities of daily living, such as with personal hygiene, meal preparation, or with mobility. It’s also a good alternative for people who are starting to show signs of dementia and therefore would not be safe living at home by themselves.
How to Talk to Elders About Assisted Living?
Talking about assisted living can be a very sensitive issue. The last thing you want is to make your loved one feel like they’re a burden, or to serve as a reminder that they can no longer continue their independent lives.
1. Always include them in the conversation. Think about how you would feel if your entire family were talking about an issue that concerns you, but they leave you out of the discussions. No matter how advanced their age, include your loved one in the conversation about assisted living. Share your concerns and listen to their responses. Listen with the intent to understand how they’re feeling and don’t just wait for your turn to reply.
2. Be fully informed about the available options. It’s one thing to bring up the subject of assisted living as a general idea. It’s a completely different landscape if you have researched facilities in your area and the different options that are available to your family member. Are there places with other residents with somewhat independent lives? Do some of them include activities you know your loved one would enjoy? What are the visiting hours? How often can you go see them?
3. Mention the benefits they’ll receive. While having an aging family member move into an assisted living facility may make your life easier, focus on the fact that the transition is about them. How will the move make their life better? For example, if they often forget to take their medication, or have fallen several times while taking a shower, or forget to turn off the stove, talk about the advantages of having someone around the clock who can take away some of their daily worries.
What’s the Difference Between Assisted Living vs. Nursing Homes vs. Home Care?
Not all assisted living facilities are created equal. The main difference across the board is the level of independence of the residents. Nursing homes (and skilled nursing facilities) have trained personnel with medical experience.
Assisted living facilities can help aging parents with personal hygiene, grooming assistance, housekeeping, meal preparation, laundry, and transportation. This is called custodial care or non-medical care.
Nursing homes delve more into the medical assistance realm, offering services ranging from administering medication to complex medical care (such as tube feedings, wound dressing, intravenous injections, rehabilitation after surgery or stroke, as well as physical, occupational, or speech therapy).
Home care is designed for people who do decide to remain in their home, yet have a professional caregiver come to their household on a regular basis to assist with companionship, medications, meal prep, and transportation to medical appointments.
How to Make the Transition Easier
While the decision to move to an assisted living facility or nursing home is rarely an easy one, there are things you can do to make the transition easier for your aging loved one:
1. Visit the facility with your loved one before moving. One of the scariest things about any kind of change is not knowing what to expect. As part of including them in the conversation, visit the facilities with the aging family member so that (a) they can decide whether they would feel comfortable there, and (b) so that they can become familiarized with the place before moving in. Go several times so that you can become used to the place and meet people who live there.
2. Talk with residents. There’s only so much a brochure can tell you. The best people to tell you whether the facilities and personnel make their lives easier are residents themselves. It’ll break the ice to make friends, and it’ll give your loved one and your family firsthand accounts of residents’ experiences.
3. Make it look like home. While an assisted living facility or nursing home will never be just like home, bring as many decorations and items of sentimental value to your loved one. Decorate and personalize their living space so that it doesn’t feel like an institution. Place pictures of loved ones and art made my grandkids in visible places. Bring their favorite books, throw pillows, slippers, and bedding.
4. Get involved. No matter how much you make their new home look like their old home, a common fear in assisted living facilities and nursing home is being forgotten. In addition to prioritizing regular visits to your loved one, look at the facility’s schedule for any activities that involve residents’ family member (such as picnics, arts and crafts, karaoke, fitness activities, barbecues, etc.) and make it a point to go to them as often as possible.
If You Have Questions About Transitioning to an Assisted Living Facility, Let us Help You.
At Senior Living Specialists, we provide assistance for the senior citizen community in Dallas. Whether it’s home care or assisted living, we have all the support and experience necessary to provide healthcare and support to your loved one.
Call us at (214) 929-5055 or fill out our online contact form.