This month, we took a deep dive into assisted living facilities. Today, I want to discuss how to make that ultimate decision.
What should family (or friends) consider as they debate whether or not to move a loved one into an assisted living facility?
First, I want to acknowledge there are no perfect, one-size-fits-all solutions. Every situation is unique. Choices about end-of-life care are difficult, no matter what.
As you consider placement in an assisted living facility, three factors should weigh into your decision.
Your loved one’s preferences
This should be the first consideration. It may not be the ultimate deciding factor. However, it is important to ask questions and include your loved one as much as possible.
It is important to ask questions and include your loved one as much as possible.
Most people would prefer to stay in their own home as long as they can. Others may enjoy the community and social interactions that nicer assisted living facilities offer.
Ask what your senior would like to continue doing, even if their abilities are limited. What situation, or what assisted living facility, could accommodate those wishes?
If it’s too late to have that conversation in full, perhaps due to memory loss, consider what the senior said in the past about assisted living facilities.
How disruptive would the move into a new environment be to their habits and sense of self?
Your loved one’s ability to care for themselves
As long as a senior is able to care for themselves, they should be allowed to make their own decisions about how they live.
If a senior’s ability to manage self-care is diminishing, it’s important to assess exactly what they would need help with.
Can your loved one:
- Move around unassisted?
- Cook their own meals?
- Bathe themselves and keep up with regular hygiene habits?
- Manage their medication?
- Obtain groceries and other necessities?
- Clean their home and/or handle the upkeep of their property?
- Engage with others regularly, so they are not lonely?
- Accurately assess their own level of safety at any given moment?
Resources available to assist in long-term care
Once you have a list of what your loved one can and cannot do, make a second list of resources at your disposal.
What family members or friends could pitch in once a week or even once a month? Useful help could include simple tasks like taking the senior shopping, helping with chores around the house or just stopping by to talk.
Consider local agencies and programs. Call your local Area Agency on Aging, which is designed to connect seniors to available resources.
If the problem is cooking meals and increasing their social interaction, something like our Food for Hope program may be the answer. Heart2Heart also is a respite agency, which offers regular visits for companionship or homemaking services.
Medicare and Medicaid also can provide in-home healthcare to seniors in need. Your loved one’s doctor is the person who would request those services, so be sure to start that conversation.
If the level of care your loved one needs exceeds the resources at your disposal, an assisted living facility may be the answer.
Not everyone can be a caregiver. A woman once explained to me that she wasn’t able to manage both her life and her mother’s life. And unfortunately, it’s often an almost-tragic event that prompts a final decision about long-term care.
Next week, we’ll discuss how to pick out a good assisted living facility that’s suited for your loved one.