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How to Help Seniors Move to Assisted Living

(An article contributed by a guest writer, Lydia Chan, of Alzheimer’s Caregiver.)

selective focus photo of woman in red floral shirtIf you have aging parents or other senior loved ones, it’s likely you’ve considered how and when to discuss assisted living options for their latter years. It can be a difficult subject, but with the right attitude and approach, you’ll be able to develop a plan with your senior that works for everyone. It’s also important to learn what factors or behaviors indicate that it’s time to move into assisted living, so as to make informed and appropriate decisions.

How to broach the subject

The key to a smooth transition to assisted living is communication. Before you initiate the conversation, first create a list of concerns you have for your aging parents or senior loved one. Consider factors such as their safety at home or ability to remember their medications. While you might be able to make some basic adjustments—like removing clutter that could be tripped over and adding a medication reminder to your senior’s tools—sometimes more help is necessary.

Learn about different senior care options, and research what’s available in your area. You’ll want to have a good idea of cost, amenities, and levels of care. The location is also important; consider options that are close to family and friends. Don’t rule out aging in place with the addition of adult day care or an in-home aide. These are cost-savvy options, and if you look into reliable and trustworthy providers like our company, you can often keep your senior safe and healthy, right at home.

Once you’ve done your research, pick a day where you can talk in-person with your parent or loved one. Empathize with them, showing that you care about their concerns and can understand that the transition may be difficult. Try not to rush into a decision, and plan to revisit the subject again in the future. Your senior will appreciate that they’re involved in the decision-making.

Factors and behaviors

As your loved one ages, there are behaviors that may arise which show it’s time for assisted living. One metric that’s helpful is assessing your parent’s activities of daily living  (ADL), which include routine tasks such as eating, bathing, getting dressed, using the toilet, and continence.  Evaluating a senior’s ability to carry out these tasks helps indicate what level of care they may need on a daily basis.

Other factors include instrumental activities of daily living (IADL), which indicate level of independence. Some of these activities include shopping, communication, meal preparation, medication management, and other basic tasks. By measuring both ADLs and IADLs, you can establish what type of assistance is right for your senior.

Types of assisted living

When you decide that your parent or senior requires more care than you can provide, and if aging in place is no longer an option, consider whether they need an assisted living facility or an independent living community.

An assisted living facility will be appropriate for seniors who need help with daily personal tasks such as bathing, dressing, and taking medications. While it doesn’t offer the same level of medical care as nursing homes, assisted living is good for seniors who have mobility issues or other challenging conditions such as Alzheimer’s or dementia.

Independent living communities are for seniors who have a greater capacity to care for themselves in their own unit. Seniors in these communities benefit from common spaces with other seniors, special services, and amenities. This housing option is perfect for a seniors who wants a network of other retirees nearby.

Purchasing life insurance

Along with your research for assisted living options, it’s important to consider purchasing a small life insurance policy for your parents or senior loved one. Smaller life insurance policies can help with covering outstanding debts, final medical bills, and funeral costs, which on average cost about $10,000. By purchasing a life insurance policy, you’ll be acquiring some peace of mind that will help final costs when the day comes.

When you’re ready to talk to your parents or other loved ones about their options for aging, do so with empathy and patience. Keep in mind that they may struggle with the transition, include them in the process and help them feel in control of their future. As they age, keep an eye on their ability to carry out daily tasks, and based on their level of independence, consider what environment may be best for them.

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