When your parent needs help with the basic activities of daily living, it may be time to look into an assisted living facility for them. Choosing whether assisted living would be the right option can be a complex decision where you need to carefully evaluate and consider the situation.
3 Types of Assisted Living Candidates
Typically, you’ll identify the potential need for assisted living in one of three ways:
Your mother or father may have had a fall or hospitalization, after which a member of the hospital discharge staff (such as a social worker or nurse) recommends assisted living.
You, family members or your parent’s friends may notice a general decline in the maintenance of your mom or dad’s home and an avoidance of certain tasks that are now difficult but were formerly done with ease — such as cleaning the house, buying groceries and maintaining personal hygiene.
In cases like this, it’s very common for people to cover up or make excuses. So raising your concerns with a parent facing such sensitive issues should be done with the utmost care and respect. You may want to consult with a medical professional to help decide whether assisted living would be appropriate.
If your parent has been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease or dementia, this could also be a time to consider an assisted living facility; more specifically, a specialized version called a memory care community. Its staffers are trained to deal with symptoms and behaviors that come with these diseases, such as wandering and agitation.
Your mother or father may be extremely resistant to the possibility of moving into an assisted living facility. It would not be an exaggeration to say that someone who has fallen repeatedly, resulting in multiple hospitalizations, will say: “I’m not ready for assisted living; that’s for really old people.”
It’s important for your parent and you to understand that an assisted living facility is different from a skilled nursing facility or nursing home, where patients are very sick and under care 24/7 or dying. Assisted living is for people who need help on a daily basis but are generally much healthier than nursing home patients.
Choosing an Assisted Living Facility
Once you and your parent are open to the idea of assisted living, the next step is identifying prospective communities.
The first thing to decide is whether you’re more interested in large communities or smaller residential care homes. Each has advantages and drawbacks.
A large assisted living facility generally has about 50 to 100 residents, a group dining hall and shared common areas.
By contrast, residential care homes are smaller, usually renovated single-family homes, and house between three and 10 residents.
Larger communities offer greater possibilities to make new friends and more diverse amenities. That’s why they’re conducive to residents who are more independent.
Residential care homes may be a better choice for those with mobility issues, who need help getting to the toilet often and fall frequently. They typically offer far superior response times to residents’ calls than larger communities.
Once you find potential communities that seem like a good fit for your parent, check with your state’s Department of Health for information about state inspections of the facilities. Most states put inspection reports on their health department’s website. If you can’t find it there, call the agency to get the lowdown by phone.
For more information on assisted living, contact Spring Arbor.