Yesterday we completed another successful webinar on assisted living. I really appreciate all of you taking time out of your afternoon to tune in!
We received so many excellent questions during our webinar, however, due to time restrictions, we were unable to get to them all. So today, I wanted to take time to answer an important question that came up.
“What do I do if my seniors level of care changes while in an assisted living facility?”
Often times, seniors move in to an assisted living facility because they need temporary help–for instance, while rehabbing after falling and breaking a hip. They go in with intentions of returning to their home after a few short weeks. Sadly, this is not always the case. Health has a tendency to deteriorate after traumatic events, and suddenly a temporary living arrangement can become a permanent home.
I went through this with my dad. We had made arrangements for him to move in to an assisted living facility for a short while after having a routine procedure done. Beforehand he was the picture of health. Even driving three hours one way to pick up my daughter at college the day before. However, the procedure was harder on him than expected, and he ended up staying in the assisted living. Luckily, we had chosen a facility where his level of care could change as he needed more assistance. However, not all assisted living facilities have these options.
In order to help guide you through this difficult time, I have put together some helpful tips to consider if your seniors care levels change.
First, when choosing a facility, even if it is for a temporary situation, it is a good idea to choose one that has the ability to step up. Most facilities have several divisions: one for those who need minimal assistance, one for those who need some assistance and have slight memory problems, and one for those who need full assistance and have dementia or Alzheimer’s disease. It is important that the facility is able to grow with your seniors ever-changing needs. Not only will it make things easier on them, but it will put less stress on you.
Another important thing you should do when visiting assisted living facilities or nursing homes is bring a comparison chart. In my workbook When Life Happens, I have put together a helpful chart to bring with you to help weigh the pros and cons of each place you visit.
Second, it is likely that the facility, or its staff, will come to you first about needing to change your seniors level of care. They spend time with your loved one every day. Therefore, they know what changes need to be made. This is why it is important to have a specific family member designated to working with the staff. This way your seniors’ needs are taken care of right away. You would not want them receiving improper care because they are no longer able to do certain things on their own.
Third, once a need for change has been established, you should set up an appointment with a geriatric professional to determine exactly what you can do to help your senior. Most facilities work with physical therapists, occupational therapists and social workers who can do an evaluation of your loved ones’ ability to perform their necessary activities of daily living. Can they get themselves to the bathroom on their own? Do they need assistance taking their medications? As they become less able to care for themselves they will become more reliant on the staff members, and their care level will be increased.
Fourth, go in with an open mind. It is hard to watch your parents age, and often times we do not see the obvious signs because we are in denial. Therefore, it is important to always have an open line of communication with the assisted living facility that your loved one is in. Like I said previously, the staff are going to tell you when their care level needs to be changed. So keep your mind open and listen to their advice. These people are trained professionals and they know what they are doing. You must also keep in mind that has need for care increases, so does the cost. Do not let the cost of upping their care be a deciding factor in the changes that you make for your loved one.
Fifth, remember that your loved one is getting older, and as you get older you do not get better. Thus, you need to have an open conversation with them in regards to their plans for the future. Where do they want to go? What can they afford? This will make it much easier on you when the time comes that they need a little extra help.
For more healthcare tips for you and your family, check out my workbook for dealing with caring for your children as well as your aging parents: Life in Sandwich Generation. Life in the Sandwich Generation is a workbook filled with information, tips and tricks for managing the demands needing to care for your aging parents, as well as taking care of your children. It details how you can involve your children in the process, how to learn more about your parents health and finances, while still making time for yourself and your spouse. You can find it here for only $10!