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Is it time for assisted living?
It can be a difficult decision to consider moving a loved one into an assisted living facility. Consider the following when assessing your loved one:
Falls or Close Calls
Impaired mobility is often the culprit of a fall or a close call. Falls often happen in the shower, or at night and in the morning when getting in and out of bed. Being alone in the early morning or late evening hours can increase the risk of a fall.
Often older people may have difficulty navigating around corners or climbing stairs safely and effectively. You can look into home modifications that can improve the accessibility of your loved one's home. Find home modification services
Change in Appearance
Noticeable weight loss or failing to complete daily hygiene tasks can be a sign of health issues, or a sign that pain or some other restriction is preventing your loved one from grooming. If your loved one can't prepare meals, he/she may eat whatever's lying around or nothing at all. Malnutrition is a serious problem for older people, and it can lead to a vicious cycle of feeling weak and being unable to do tasks that might make them feel better.
Safety and Security Issues
As people get older and more forgetful, they may leave the door unlocked or open, or have more home accidents, like setting fire to something from an unattended stove. Occasional forgetfulness happens to everyone, but frequent bouts of forgetfulness could be a sign of dementia or Alzheimer's. Learn about 10 Signs and Symptoms of Alzheimer's
Depression and loneliness can cause insomnia, weight loss, mood swings, and can escalate to include thoughts of suicide. Depression is one of the most common illnesses among older adults. Social support from peers at assisted living facilities and interaction with helpful and friendly staff can go a long way toward assuaging the symptoms of depression.
Cleanliness and Clutter
Piles of unopened mail or other clutter often appear when a loved one just can't keep up with daily housekeeping anymore. Be on the lookout for overflowing trash or an unusually dirty home when you visit. Neglected housework can be a sign that pain or impairment is keeping your loved one from completing basic tasks.
How do I bring this up?
Starting a conversation about assisted living can be extraordinarily difficult—it's never an easy topic to discuss, and people are often offended by the suggestion that they aren't able to handle things on their own.
Put yourself in their shoes
First of all, remember that most people fiercely resist having their independence threatened. Try to put yourself in your loved one's shoes. While, from your perspective, it seems obvious that Mom needs to move after a bad fall, from her perspective, this is an incident that she thinks she can handle herself and prevent in the future.
Listen more than you talk
It can be tempting to have a big speech prepared and to try to argue your case to your loved one. Resist the urge! Assuming you're not in an emergency situation, you should plan to have several smaller discussions rather than one big confrontation. This allows your parent to preserve his or her dignity and slowly get used to the idea. The first time you bring it up, toss them a softball and see how they respond.
- "Hey, I'm really worried that you haven't been answering my calls. Are you having trouble making it to the phone?"
- "I noticed the laundry's piling up around here. Do you need any help?"
- "Now that [emergency situation] is over, can we talk about how to keep you safe in the future?"
- "Have you considered what will happen when you can't [task] anymore?"
Find an ally
It can be helpful to have someone else to take the pressure off you, the family member. A doctor, a priest, a counselor, or even a family friend might play this role. Ideally, you want the third party to be the neutral voice of reason. A parent may resist her child "bossing her around," but may take the same suggestions more seriously when they come from another person. Doctors are particularly good allies because they can help emphasize the consequences of inaction, and they can help you consider all your options. Because the opinions are coming from a trained professional, your loved one may be more likely to listen.
Types of Assisted Living Facilities
Independent Living Facility (IL or ILF)
Independent living facilities can be apartments, condos, or freestanding homes. These types of homes allow seniors maximum independence and autonomy, while still giving them limited access to some amenities, such as dining rooms and recreational activities. Generally, home maintenance and yardwork is taken care of by the facility, and most homes will have accessibility and safety features, such as bath grab bars and emergency pull cords.
Assisted Living Facility (AL or ALF)
Assisted living facilities are most frequently apartment-style homes with organized social activities and support services on-site. Assisted living is designed for individuals who need assistance with everyday activities such as meals and medication management or help with personal tasks like bathing and dressing.
Skilled Nursing Facility (SNF)
A skilled nursing facility or nursing home is for people who need more help. Nursing care is the most advanced form of care outside of a hospital, so they can handle residents with acute, chronic, terminal or temporary health issues. Residents of skilled nursing facilities have access to doctors, nurses, aides and specialists to help them, and treatment is tailored to each individual patient.
Memory care facilities focus on protecting people with Alzheimer's and dementia. They can be similar to assisted living or nursing care facilities, but they often take additional security precautions to ensure the safety of their residents.
Continuous Care Retirement Community (CCRC)
Continuous care facilities offer multiple types of care within one campus; for example, independent living, assisted living, and nursing home care. The idea of step-down care is that you enter when healthy and independent. As you age and need more care, you can move within the facility without moving to an entirely new place. This helps keep social support in place and avoids the isolating loneliness that many older people feel upon moving to a new place.