I Think My Loved One Needs More Care!
Senior living often gets a bad rap. In fact, the stigmas associated with senior living can interfere with the most common goals shared among family members: to ensure the safety, health and overall well-being of their aging loved ones. And while “aging in place” in one’s own home is currently a popular trend, the truth is, it is not necessarily better or even feasible for millions of older adults who need more care. Let's take a closer look at the truth behind senior living, along with a few signs indicating that the time might be right to consider a transition for your aging loved one.
About Senior Living
One of the biggest impediments to adopting the lifestyle of senior living is a lack of understanding. Some people mistakenly believe that senior living is “just another home for old people” and only necessary for people who require extensive care. The truth is that many senior living communities provide independent living options, assistance with daily routines, dementia care, memory support and other forms of medical oversight, and a full range of “hospitality”-based services and amenities. Daily meals and snacks; laundry service; housekeeping and maintenance; 24-hour safety and security; transportation; and daily activities and events are just a few of the offerings available.
Senior living communities are primarily designed to provide a maintenance-free lifestyle, while offering countless opportunities for living a full and purposeful life. This allows your loved one to live as independently as possible, without the burden of managing difficult responsibilities on their own. In turn, a senior living community also creates a support system for caregivers and family members, taking on most of their caregiving duties as well.
Because senior living communities provide such a diverse range of services and amenities, “readiness” can be a fluid term. There are, however, some common signs which indicate that the time may be right. Some are more obvious, such as a chronic health conditions; increasing accidents and near misses; and difficulties managing activities of daily living (ADLs), such as getting dressed, bathing, and personal care.
Other signs can include physical changes (noticeable weight loss or weight gain, frailness, and changes in appearance); social isolation (fewer opportunities for socialization, loss of interest in activities and interests; more time spent alone in the house); and difficulty managing household/financial responsibilities(unopened mail, unread magazines, and bills and letters from banks and creditors indicating lapses like overdue payments and overdrawn balances).
Changes in driving may also indicate a need for senior living. Unexplainable car damage, tailgating, lane drifting, getting lost, and other signs of impairment or erratic driving can signal the need for increased assistance with transportation.
One oft-ignored factor which also weighs into assessing senior living readiness? The impact on the caregiver. Caregivers who are feeling increasingly overwhelmed by the burdens of caregiving often suffer from a great deal of stress, and maintain a strained relationship with their loved one. Choosing a senior living community with a loved one can safeguard the health and wellness of caregivers and their loved ones alike.
Input From Others
While some family caregivers interact with their loved ones every day, others may be separated by physical distance. If you aren’t in daily contact with your parent, talk to friends and neighbors who are. If they’ve noticed any of these signs, it is likely time for a closer look. Additionally, your loved one's healthcare team can also be a valuable resource.
While all of this information may seem overwhelming, ensuring senior wellness at home is an essential part of protecting their safety and quality of life. If you do notice any of these changes, keep in mind that starting the discussion early allows seniors time to adjust to the idea and provides family members with time to find the right community. Schedule a tour at a local senior living community and ask for opportunities to speak with current residents, staff, or family members. Many times these community connections and conversations can sell the the senior living lifestyle better than any brochure or website.
Looking for an easy tool to help you determine if your loved one is ready for a senior living community? Take our Readiness Quiz to determine if your loved one’s care needs suggest a move may be in order. Download our quiz here!
- While “aging in place” at home is a valid option for some older adults, for others it may not be the safest option.
- Senior living communities provide a range of diverse lifestyle services and amenities so be sure to evaluate your loved one’s needs before touring a community.
- To determine if senior living is the next step, carefully observe changes in your loved one’s lifestyle and take notice of his/her ability to live safely and care for himself/herself.
- Friends, neighbors and healthcare professionals can also provide valuable insight into determining readiness.
About Marissa Salvesen
My journey into the world of senior living began when I started working for United Methodist Homes in 2010. Starting as an Activities Director at one of our-winning assisted and independent living communities and then transitioning to Marketing and Promotions Manager for UMH, I now work as the Manager of Mission Development, fostering the Mission and Values of our organization. I love sharing stories about the many ways we build meaningful relationships and enrich the lives of those we serve, and am proud to be part of building UMH’s 140-year legacy of caring. Wondering what makes our communities such special places to live and work? Connect with me and find out!
Our Blog is a 2016 Platinum Generations Award Winner! The Generations Award is an annual international competition for excellence in senior marketing recognizing professionals who have communicated to the 50+ Mature Markets.