The aging population is growing and senior care is challenging for kids and loved ones. As a senior living community in Midlothian, VA we thought we would share some common questions and concerns from loved one and senior who are contemplating the move to assisted living.
Having the ‘Conversation’
Q. What do you do when you aged parents do not want to have the “conversation” before a crisis occurs about senior care and assisted living?
A. There are some elders who will never agree to have “the conversation” until a major medical catastrophe occurs. Subsequently, your choices will become limited. Enlist the help of people your parents trusts or listen to (physician, a clergyman or all the children as a group) to reassure them that having the conversation at this point does not mean that changes are happening immediately or ever. In fact, emphasize that this is for you, the children, for the potential future planning, should change be needed, as way of ensuring that the person’s wishes are carried out. Sometimes this “tactic” works. Remember, no one wants to give up their independence.
Knowing When It’s Time for More Help
Q. As a couple in our 70’s we are wondering when we should consider assisted living. What are the indications that it’s time to exchange our lifelong independence for a situation that offers some support?
A. Plan ahead as much as you can. It is far easier to explore what each of you want to do and what options you have now, before the urgency hits. Some people live out their lives in their own homes, perhaps hiring some caregiver support.
Some questions to consider when deciding if it is time to relocate relate to your overall quality of life. Are you still able to get outside to enjoy activities you have always enjoyed? Is maintaining your home becoming more difficult? Have your neighbors moved away? Is there shopping nearby if you can no longer drive? Has your neighborhood remained safe enough for you to go outdoors alone?
You should also consider the possible benefits of an assisted living facility, some of which have activities and programs that might be more enjoyable while you are still active. In researching assisted living facilities, remember to read all the fine print, and check with your state’s local better business bureau, the local department of health, as well as by asking around in your community to see if any information is available on complaints. Try to ascertain how the residents who live there feel about it. Assisted living communities are a good option for many.
Q. When does ‘forgetful’ morph into ‘needs memory care’?
A. Dementia has been described to be like the rain — rain may be in the forecast, but it is unlikely that the storm will hit exactly when it is expected. Therefore, just as you would want to pack an umbrella in your pocketbook “just in case,” it is important that safety measures have been put in place before the “storm” begins. Keep a close eye for changes and other needs. This plan may quickly need updating.
Q. As an at-home caregiver of my spouse, when is the right time to move someone into memory care?
This decision is very much an individual one. The spouse with cognitive impairment can be kept at home, for years, and there are other situations, where the “breaking point” for the well spouse was incontinence, or the spouse no longer recognizing their spouse or children. Support for the caregiver is a must, however, as the caregiver the spouse has significant decision-making choices.
A couple of telling moments that can help you decide that it may be time for an independent living facility that offers housekeeping and meals follow:
- Bills not paid or causing a lot of confusion and tears.
- Odd purchases.
- Giving away lots of expensive items to neighbors just because they bothered to visit her once in a while.
- Dropping out of church, or other main social outlets.
Q. How to determine whether a loved one in an assisted living community should be receiving more care
A. Seeking input from the primary care physician as to what types of care he or she thinks is needed. A geriatric care manager can also provide a written assessment/care plan. Often the facility does keep a close eye on their residents, to make sure that the residents are in the right level of care. You can also spend time with your loved one to determine if they are content and well cared for.
New York Times