Is it the Right Time for Assisted Living?
Families often call into Bethany questioning if it is the right time for their loved one to move into an assisted living facility. This decision can be challenging for families as well as their loved one. While some individuals have a clear need for increased assistance due to safety concerns, nutritional concerns, medical concerns, etc., there are other times that this choice is not so clear-cut.
While it would be nice to have a clear algorithm to inform such a significant decision, the many factors that play into making this transition make it challenging to know exactly when the right time might be. The following will discuss some of the considerations to think about and discuss when contemplating if it is the right time to look for assisted living placement for your loved one.
Many families open a conversation about assisted living by mentioning a concern for their loved one’s safety. While this is a broad category, there are certain themes that come up when discussing safety. One of the first themes is often a concern about their loved one’s ability to safely navigate their home. As loved ones begin to require the assistance of a walker or perhaps a wheelchair, their home can become increasingly difficult to navigate safely. Additionally, there is often a concern associated with stairs in a multi-level home. While some have the ability to alter their set-up to allow for most of their needs to be met on one level of the house, not all living arrangements afford this luxury.
Caring for one’s home is also a common theme that will come up when discussing safety. While many individuals desire to maintain the same involvement in the day-to-day upkeep of their homes, these tasks can be tiresome and physically demanding. I often hear from families that others try to help and take over many of these tasks. However, over time, the challenges associated with balancing the needs of your loved one’s home with the needs of your own home can become overwhelming.
A third theme involving safety is associated with cooking. Over time, cooking can become a challenge and even unsafe for many of our loved ones. Along with a general safety concern, this also touches on the similar concern of appropriate nutrition for their loved ones. Similar to the upkeep of the house, families will often begin to try and help their loved one by preparing meals so they only need to re-heat items instead of preparing their meals from scratch. However, this too can take away from other obligations and from simply being present to support and care for their loved one.
At Bethany, one of our services we factor into our cost is the passing of medications and oversight of prescriptions to ensure that residents are receiving the appropriate medications at the appropriate times. This process is another common point of discussion with families as they are considering assisted living for their loved one. While many have developed systems at home, such as pillboxes or mail delivery systems, there can still be a worry for families associated with proper medication oversight. At Bethany, our team takes this task over to alleviate the associated worry.
As a loved one needs more assistance, families are often faced with needing to carve out an increased amount of time to help. What may have started as needing to check-in every evening, can develop into needing to stop over in the morning, afternoon, and/or nighttime. Of course, there is still the potential concern of overnight assistance as well. In assisted living, someone is always available to assist 24/7.
Social and Interpersonal Considerations
While remaining at home is a likely goal for all of us as we age, beyond the physical needs that may develop over time, we continue to have social needs that are important to consider as well. Many families discuss their hopes of having active engagement for their loved ones beyond what is experienced at home. Too often, many individuals may struggle to remain connected with friend groups, extended family, church groups, etc. due to decreased mobility. The experience of isolation has only been increased by COVID restrictions and concerns.
An assisted living community is just that, a community. An assisted living community can offer opportunities for socialization such as large and small group activities, exercise classes, religious activities, and communal dining to name a few available opportunities. To see so many residents engage in these activities as well as develop strong relationships with staff members, volunteers, and other residents is a phenomenal thing to witness.
There is no doubt that caring for your loved one at their home or perhaps your own home can increase the experience of stress in your life. Very often, families express an internal conflict when researching assisted living. Perhaps they made a promise to keep their loved one at home for as long as they could, or maybe even promised to never find placement for them at all. While these conversations are of course understandable, the reality is that sometimes home may not be the safest place anymore. In these instances, families often express the experience of increased stress. Our philosophy at Bethany is to take care of the needs described here along with many others so that families can focus their time and energy on simply being there with and for their loved one and enjoy their time together without the added stress that can be associated with being the sole caretaker(s) for their loved one.
The aforementioned considerations are not intended to be an exhaustive list of considerations. However, these can be important aspects to consider and discuss when determining if it is the right time to start investing assisted living for your loved one.