Advice And Tips On How To Get Your Parents Into Assisted Living

By: Scott Grant, ATP, CRTS®

The decision to move into an assisted living home often has mixed emotions – for both the older adults and their families. Maybe this guide to getting parents into assisted living can help.

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Many seniors, along with their families find it a difficult and emotional task on whether they should be moving out of the comfort of their home into one of the assisted living communities.

For most, making the decision is usually based on realizing that our loved ones might need some extra help or they may benefit greatly from the range of personalized services, including medication monitoring, healthy meals, personal care, and social outlets dealing with the isolation they may be currently experiencing.

Is It Time For Assisted Living? Your Checklist To Know It’s Time

If after reading these questions you have answered “yes” to 4 or more, moving your loved one to an assisted living community may be the best option for you and your parent.

  • Does parent struggle with home repairs, yard work, and housework on her or his own?
  • Can your parent bathe and shower regularly without assistance? Are you starting to worry about her or his safety while in the shower or tub?
  • Has your parent started to fall behind on their bills? Or is the mail starting to pile up?
  • Has your loved one recently fallen? Or have you noticed changes in their balance, mobility, or walking?
  • Has your loved one started forgetting to take his/her medications?
  • Does your parent need assistance scheduling and traveling to medical appointments?
  • Are they snacking instead of taking the time to cook proper nutritious meals?
  • Are you concerned about the safety of your loved ones as soon as they are alone?
  • Is your parent finding it hard to maintain their social life? Have they started making excuses as to why they are no longer participating with friends?
  • Are you starting to feel that your parent is feeling bored, lonely, or isolated?
Assisted Living Facilities usually offer group activities that also provide opportunities for physical and mental stimulation as well as socialization.

How To Get Your Parents Into Assisted Living – The General Process

Moving your aging loved one or parents into an assisted living facility can be an emotional and stressful decision for you and them. They might be anxious or scared about letting go of their independence or you may be feeling guilty about making this decision.

However, when your loved one’s comfort and safety are now at risk, or you are no longer able to care for them and still keep up your own family and work life, assisted living may be the ideal option.

Here is a list of considerations that can help your parent and you manage the steps involved to move them into an assisted living facility:

1. Look Out For The Warning Signs

As your parents start to get older you might notice a few obvious or subtle signs that it might be the right time to think about moving them to an assisted living community.

2. Start The Conversation

The assisted living communities of today are far from the lonely, neglectful, nursing homes that many people imagine. Instead, they now include like-minded seniors and vibrant communities that enjoy a range of social activities and events together.

But before you approach your loved one, make sure you have done a bit of research to find the most suitable and conveniently located assisted living facilities.

Instead of jumping into a conversation, rather drop hints or plant a seed. Avoid rushing them into making a decision. Make sure that you also mention the host of benefits including the fact that their housekeeping and cooking will be taken care of.

3. Making The Move

The move to an assisted living facility will usually require downsizing. This might mean only bringing along a few of your favorite items such as a beloved teacup or armchair, along with a few prized mementos or photos that hold sentimental and emotional value.

While you might be thinking about buying exciting and new furniture, familiarity will probably make your loved one feel more at home. Some facilities may have limits on how you can decorate their room, so ask in advance about their policies.

4. Plan Your Visits

The frequency of your visits will depend on what your parent needs. Some seniors need frequent visits and others might need a bit of space to get used to their new environment.

Bring your new assisted living resident a gift for your first visit to welcome them to their new home. Make a housewarming party out of it!

5. Always Be Supportive But Also Expect A Few Setbacks

It is essential to show empathy when your loved one is feeling scared or when they have specific complaints or concerns about their living arrangement.

Even if you think your parent has settled in, there may be a time when they start asking to return home. In these situations, give them comfort but also reassure them that this is the best decision for both their safety and comfort.

Remember that making the move to assisted living has wide ranging emotional responses so give your parents plenty of time to adjust.

What To Look For When Touring Or Comparing Assisted Living Facilities

When you start searching for an assisted living home for your loved one, you are most likely looking for facilities where he/she is going to be happy, cared for, and safe. Yet, this is also one of the biggest decisions you will have to make, and it requires ample research, time, and effort.

Here is a list of the key elements to look out for when you start touring different facilities. This will help you to make an informed and confident decision.

1. Is there a smell?

While some assisted living homes may develop odors over the day, these homes should not have the smell of urine all over the place. In most cases, a consistent odor may mean the care or housekeeping is not up to par.

2. Watch the quality of care being given!

When you tour assisted living communities, check out the nurses and aides to determine the form of care they are providing. Even though it is not always easy to assess the personalities of each staff member, it is vital to make sure the staff appears to be courteous, friendly, and compassionate towards the residents that they are working with.

3. Does it feel clean?

Odors are not the only indication of a poorly-kept facility. When you take tours, look at the exterior and interior of the building. Do you notice excessive dust or dirt anywhere? When you visit the bedrooms, take a close look at the room. Also, be sure to ask about the routine cleaning performed in these rooms.

RELATED: When to Move from Assisted Living to Memory Care

4. Is there an option for Memory Care if needed?

If your loved one is suffering from a mental condition, such as Alzheimer’s or dementia, standardized homes might not be a suitable option. It may be better to look at the more secure memory care units. These homes have locked doors and gates that stop the residents from wandering off or escaping.

5. Do the current residents look happy?

While arguments are inevitable and residents are not always engaged at every facility, it is still important to assess whether the seniors appear to be relatively happy. Try scheduling your tours during times where activities are going on. Make sure you stick around to see how well personnel or the activity director runs these activities.

6. Are the doorways and rooms wheelchair accessible?

Whether your elderly parent is already using a wheelchair or walker, or they do not have any mobility issues present now, it’s still important to find out whether the facility is wheelchair accessible. You want a home that accommodates your loved one’s mobility issues, either now, or further down the line. Ask about whether or not power wheelchairs are allowed should the need ever arise.

7. How’s the food?

RELATED: Having an Elderly Parent Move in With You

When touring assisted living communities, make sure you find out what type of snacks and meals they offer. It is important to make sure that the facility is offering well-balanced and nutritious meals. Don’t be afraid to tour at lunch or dinner time and offer to pay for a meal and try it yourself.

Conclusion

Assisted living for your loved ones should be about finding a home that maximizes their independence in a facility that celebrates individuality, provides choices, and allows each resident to thrive.

There are several available resources online when you are looking for memory care or assisted living facilities. We suggest taking your time and allowing your loved one to be involved as much as possible in the process.

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