When Should Chattanooga Seniors Move to Assisted Living?
Everyone with a parent over 60 has a moment of dread when mom or dad forgets something or repeats the same information more than a couple of times. While it may be nothing, it’s a good idea to look into such behavior, explaining that you are concerned and just want to make sure they are okay. The fear is that they are exhibiting early symptoms of dementia, but the disease happens differently for each person, so an expert diagnosis is needed based on medical testing and assessment.
During these times, it’s only natural to start thinking about the “what ifs” of the situation and question if the time has arrived to seek extra help to do everyday tasks. Is it time to begin considering moving to a Chattanooga Assisted Living community like Rosewood of Fort Oglethorpe?
In this month’s blog, we look at how doctors assess a senior’s needs and how family members can make the process of transitioning to the next stage of life easier.
Recognizing when it’s time to move into Assisted Living
A senior does not necessarily have to exhibit symptoms like memory loss, disorientation, mood disorders, and so forth for the move to a retirement community to happen. Many people enjoy the newfound freedom and leisure that come with having no more dishes or clothes to wash, a yard to mow, etc.
Unfortunately, there’s often an incident that leads to an unpleasant truth that might cause a parent to seek help out of necessity. The catalyst may instead be poor health rather than dementia. Poor vision, Multiple Sclerosis, Parkinson’s Disease, high blood pressure, heart disease, depression, arthritis, osteoporosis, diabetes, COPD, cancer, and strokes give us plenty else to worry about affecting a parent’s ability to remain independent. Illnesses can result from years of obesity, poor diet, smoking, or a combination thereof.
If family caregivers need help, checking into Assisted Living moves the whole family toward greater peace of mind.
The senior may not recognize what everyone sees. He or she might become confused, suspicious, and even paranoid. Experts recommend slowly looking into Assisted Living as something to eventually do “someday” rather than an immediate change to be forced upon them, like it or not. Arrange visits to check out your local retirement communities – mom or day may find it comforting to speak to residents about their daily experiences and be relieved that a home-like setting (rather than something like a nursing home) awaits them.
You should also consult the senior’s doctor to cross-out treatable conditions that can have similar symptoms to dementia. If the physician examines the senior and finds that the events are, indeed, the early signs of Alzheimer’s, this moves toward accepting what might otherwise be dismissed without a professional assessment.
How does Senior Assisted Living Work?
Facilities can range in terms of the level of personal care offered and available resident amenities. Living spaces may depend on how independent the senior is when arriving. For many, an apartment with a kitchen included may strike the right balance, while others may want or need to rely completely on prepared meals served in a common dining area. As with anything in life, the living situation depends on what the senior and his/her family can afford.
Assisted living residences may vary greatly in size, appearance, cost, and services offered, but most will include basic housekeeping and medication reminders. Concerns about the senior’s ability to safely drive are alleviated by furnished transportation and certain health services that eliminate the need to get out as often for doctor’s appointments.
Assisted Living usually strikes a balance between the need for privacy and freedom vs the security of 24-hour supervision.
How to relocate a parent to Assisted Living
One of the hardest things a person will ever do is force a reluctant parent to move into a senior living community against his or her wishes. Even after the move is completed, the loved one may experience feelings of intense grief.
Here are some recommendations to make things easier:
• Allow 3-6 months for the senior to adjust to the new living arrangement. It’s normal for a new resident to struggle to make friends and fit at home in a new place. Scheduled activities and encouraging participation in group activities can ease this time. Anticipating setbacks as normal and expected makes them easier to overcome.
• Visit the parent frequently so they do not feel abandoned or lonely. Rosewood makes this easy with opportunities for shared dining.
• Acknowledge their feelings.
• The new space should be decorated with familiar furniture with photographs of family and friends, photo albums, favorite books, and a familiar piece of artwork following them to the new living space. Don’t overwhelm your parents with a new phone or remote control for the television, or a fancy new coffee maker. Limit the amount of new things they need to learn.
How to Encourage Mom or Dad to Move to Assisted Living
Convincing mom or dad to relocate to the “old folks’ rest home” is rarely easy.
Most of our residents at Rosewood find their move represented an exciting new stage of life where they enjoy a more carefree existence and make new friends. It’s nice to know there’s lots of opportunities to enjoy leisure and friendly company. Look into the social aspects of a good assisted living community while stressing the peace of mind gained from increased safety measures.
If a parent is sad he or she never gets visits from friends anymore, take the opportunity to suggest Assisted Living as the solution. AgingCare.com suggests checking around to “see if anyone you know has a loved one who is already thriving in a local assisted living community” because it can offer great comfort to have a familiar face around. Many of our communities offer a financial incentive if a senior refers a friend to join us.
Making the Call
A move to Assisted Living, under ideal conditions, starts with research and a tour of facilities BEFORE any disturbing signs of cognitive decline. Seniors and their families should take the time to learn what’s ahead and make sure the parent’s wants and needs factor into what happens next – when the time arrives.
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