We all face the day when we recognize that an elderly parent no longer has the ability to live on their own. Whether they’re struggling with dementia, physical decline, or a disease or disorder that can’t be managed in a home environment, the kindest and most loving gesture you can make is finding the very best living environment geared toward their unique needs. With a bit of research, you can locate a warm and caring place in which your loved one will feel safe and well. Keep reading to learn more about how to transition to assisted living.
Making the Decision
It can be difficult having a conversation with a parent about the decision to move into an assisted living facility. While some people can recognize the need on their own, others are reluctant to give up their independence. While it might be possible to provide in-home care or move them in with you, in the majority of cases, there comes a point when the greatest kindness — and safest option — is to provide your parents with professional care in a home-like setting.
How will you know when it’s time? When your parents can no longer perform activities of daily living (bathing, personal hygiene, toileting, feeding, etc.) or when living alone presents a health risk. Mobility issues and dementia both increase the potential for serious injury, and are indicators it’s time to have the conversation.
Questions to Ask
When you start looking at assisted living options, make a list of questions to ask, specific to your loved one’s wants and needs. This might include queries related to cost, amenities, nursing staff ratios, and information about social activities. If your parent requires incontinence care, has some form of dementia, or other special needs, you’ll want to ensure the facilities you’re considering offer the services your family is looking for. You’ll also want to visit and get a feel for the environment and the staff.
Financing Assisted Living Care
Providing exceptional levels of full-service care for a loved one is not without expense. While it can be a difficult move for families, in many cases, the sale of your loved one’s home can be used to support their new living environment. Many families decide to do some advanced research into the value of their parent’s home to get an idea of what a future sale price may be. While it can be an emotionally fraught undertaking, remind yourself that you’re acting in your family member’s absolute best interest. If there is no property to sell, you may have other financing options. A social worker can help you examine potential avenues, including support from Medicare.
Making the Transition
Part of the difficulty in easing a parent into assisted living is their fear of the unknown, and the perceived loss of control and independence. While it’s ideal to have a discussion about long-term care before this time comes, that’s not always possible, so you may have to address it head-on when something happens, such as a fall or accident. According to Working Daughter, it’s important to listen to and acknowledge your loved one’s concerns. Reassure them that you will find a place that is tailored to their unique needs and interests. Help them establish reasonable expectations and let them know it will take a little while to get settled in and feel at “home.” Resist the urge to buy all new things like bedding and artwork when you make the move unless they specifically request it; familiarity will aid in the settling-in process.
Dealing with Guilt
According to the Alzheimer’s Association, many adult children struggle with emotions when transitioning a parent to assisted living. This can be compounded if the parent is resisting the move, asking to stay with you, or saying they want to “go home.” Remind yourself that you are acting from a place of love in making the best decision for your parents, just as they did for you when you were younger. It’s difficult to say “no” and to face tears, but recognize that following an adjustment period, most people successfully adapt and feel comforted by their new living environment. If you find yourself struggling with depression or anxiety around the move, talk to your own doctor and seek counseling or support group help as needed.
As the Baby Boomer generation continues to age and requires additional levels of care, more and more options are becoming available to caregivers and families. The Administration for Community Living provides a wealth of vetted resources to help you make informed choices.
SeniorLivingU would like to thank Donna Erickson for contributing this blog. Donna Erickson is a retired public educator. She created Fit Memory with a few friends as a way to promote wellness among senior citizens with the hopes it will help inspire others to make the most of their golden years.