As individuals age, many seek living arrangements that offer a safe, secure, stimulating environment but also one which provides for changes in mobility and health status. When it comes to making a decision about an assisted living community for a loved one, making a well-informed and timely decision is essential.
Let’s face it, handing over the care of a parent or loved one when home care is no longer an option is often a difficult step for anyone to take. The new housing arrangement will have to meet the daily life needs of the older adult for today and the future.
Keep in mind, this type of move will likely be stressful for the older adult—it is best to not have to do it twice.
Older adults experience varying degrees of adjustment challenges when making the transition to assisted living—the need to downsize from a home to a moderately sized apartment, adjustment to new dining routines, changes in their food menu, different scheduled times for assistance with daily activities, resentment in having to live with people that are more disabled, feelings of abandonment and a sense of frustration surrounding a perceived loss of independence.
It is also important to note that many older adults have no trouble making the transition to assisted living. They find it to be such a relief to no longer have to manage and maintain the upkeep of their former homes.
Remember to check out your housing options early because it takes time to find the right place to call home where your parent will be in a safe and supportive environment, receive the proper physical care and medical oversight, mental stimulation and companionship.
First, here is some guidance on doing an assisted living search.
When starting the search for the right assisted living community, you may find yourself looking into a Continuing Care Retirement Centers (also referred to as CCRC) which offers several levels of housing arrangements depending on a resident’s health status and ability to function independently.
All levels are typically located on the same campus or facility site. When you tour a facility, check to be sure the facility can truly provide the level of care advertised and ask about staffing levels.
A quality check is important as you research options. Contact the local area agency on aging or the long term care ombudsman about licensing or any quality assurance program within the state.
You may check with the Better Business Bureau to see if any complaints have been filed against a particular community. You will find that it is helpful to talk to people who reside in these communities and their families.
For a comprehensive resource on various senior living options and all long term care options including Alzheimer’s or Dementia, be sure to check with seniorguidance.org where you will find helpful information for your individual state.
Assisted living units are designed for individuals who may have limited mobility and need some assistance and supervision with daily living activities, such as bathing, dressing, toileting and other personal tasks. Units can be a single room with bath or a small apartment with bath and kitchenette.
Advantages include balanced nutritious meals, housekeeping, supervision, activities and custodial care. Some facilities may accept residents with dementia.
The national median monthly rate according to the 2016 Cost of Care Survey by Genworth Financial Inc. for a one bedroom unit in assisted living in the United States is $3,628 or could be higher or lower depending on the area and services provided. The cost has been rising by an average of 4.29 percent annually during the past five years.
For more information about the regulations and the residences in your particular state, contact the area agency on aging at www.eldercare.gov and the National Consumer Voice for Quality Long-Term Care Alliance at www.assistedlivingconsumers.org
Once you have identified and located the ideal assisted living community, here are the 6 best ways to help an older adult make a successful transition to their home away from home.
1. Visit the Community Several Times Prior to Moving In. There will be opportunities to attend meals and events. It is a good time to become familiar with residents, staff and the layout of the community.
Result: Such efforts help to make the assisted living community and everyone who works there seem more familiar. It will help your parent feel more comfortable when she or he will eventually move in.
2. Help Your Parent Personally with the Move. Find the time to become involved in the move by wrapping special household or sentimental items and addressing any concerns early.
Result: This personal attention will demonstrate your support of your parent or the older adult. Your engagement also in this area will be appreciated and lift some of the stress of moving.
3. Provide Regular Positive Reassurance. This reassurance is of great importance during the first few days and weeks of the move.
Result: It will help your parents to think positively and to view the move as starting a new chapter in their lives rather than ending a life they have always known.
4. Bring Personal Items and Recreate Aspects of Their Former Home. Can you duplicate certain aspects of the living room or bedroom in the new living quarters? Find ways to decorate with cherished items and organize the furniture in the assisted living apartment when possible, to reflect a similar layout to their previous home or their current preferences.
Result: Your loved one will appreciate a sense of familiarity and convenience and experience a feeling of comfort in the apartment. It also is an opportunity to create a safe environment where everyday fall hazards are eliminated.
5. Encourage Your Parent to Participate in Activities and to Volunteer. There are a wide variety of activities available at assisted living communities. Encourage your parent(s) to find the activities that appeal to them and to seek volunteer opportunities or to sponsor a club.
Result: Your parents will adjust better if they become involved in activities, feel useful and have a purpose in their new community. In addition, they will experience the health benefits and social support of making some new friends.
6. Allow Your Parents to Remain Independent. Visit your parents regularly especially during the first few days and weeks to ensure that your loved one does not feel abandoned and to address any new concerns.
As a long distance or local caregiver, you will at some point find a comfortable schedule that meets both of your needs and schedules for in person visits. Do your best however, to not feel as though you must be with them all day or every day. Avoid parenting your parent.
Result: The goal is to reinforce any abilities and independence that remain. Your job is to assist your parent to remain in control as much as possible. This approach will help to remind the older adult of their independence and encourage them to adapt well to his or her new home and not feel abandoned or trapped in the new community.
“There is nothing more important than a good, safe, secure home.”—Rosalynn Carter
Please feel free to share your thoughts. Which tips do you have that will help an older adult make a successful transition to assisted living ?
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