If it’s been awhile since you took a trip to your childhood home, you might be surprised to find your dad cooking with pots that are burned on the bottoms because they have been left to boil or your mom wearing the same dirty clothes day after day. These are signs that your aging loved ones need help to stay safe and healthy.
But figuring out their needs, understanding the options, and making decisions can feel overwhelming. If you see that your parents need assisted living care, here are some steps that can help you find them the right care.
Assess Their Needs
You’ll first want to determine if you have a crisis on your hands or an ongoing chronic decline, which will help determine how quickly you must act and make decisions and how much collaboration with other family members you can afford to engage in. Start by conducting a DIY home safety assessment for seniors.
Think about food, nutrition, and kitchen safety; medications and health status; mobility and functioning; and house and home safety. How much support are they getting in each area, and how much help do they realistically need to stay safe and healthy? Make a list of everything you can think of that needs to be done, fixed, solved, or handled.
Include Your Loved Ones in the Process
Just because you think your parents need help with medication management, transportation, and meals doesn’t mean they’ll feel the same way about their own needs for care. Your mom might be in denial about how much assistance with day-to-day activities she really needs, or your dad might be resistant to making the move to an assisted living facility.
That’s why it’s critical to include both your loved one and the rest of the family in the process of developing the plan. Actively listen to their concerns. Be responsive to their questions. This will show them that you hear their concerns and want their input on making the decision. The more inclusive you can be, the less likely you will later face roadblocks.
Understand Their Finances
Finances are a sensitive subject for anyone, especially for parents. However, to ensure your parents have sufficient funds to live comfortably for the rest of their lives — or to make plans if
they don’t — it’s essential to get a good idea of their bills, insurance policies, investments, and more.
Look at what your family can afford on a monthly basis. Stress that you don’t need to take over their finances but that you’re available to help lighten their load, develop a spending plan, or interested in getting all the information you need in case they can no longer take care of their own finances. Once you have an idea of their financial position, you’ll know if they’ll be able to afford the care they need or if they’ll need financial help.
Assisted living communities come in all different shapes and sizes, and pricing structures vary widely. Although the cost of assisted living is rising, you can make a plan to finance the move and defray the cost of long-term care.
Explore Assisted Living Options
There is no standard for assisted living communities, and they’re not regulated by the federal government, which can make comparing one community to another difficult. Start by making a list of communities that interest you and your loved ones. Review the community’s website, look for online reviews, and take the time to call each one. Ask for a general overview of their features, amenities, and services. Take notes on each call, and compare them after sorting through your list.
Next, schedule visits for you and your parent at a minimum of three communities on your short list. Ask if you can schedule a tour during an activity or during a meal time. When you go in for your tour, pay close attention to how you feel and what is going on around you. After the tour, make sure to address the questions that arose while reviewing the marketing materials.
Comparing assisted living communities is time-consuming, but knowing as much as possible before an emergency arises is best.
Make a Decision — and the Move
When determining the best living situation for an elderly loved, be realistic about their current care needs as well as their anticipated needs. It’s better to choose an assisted living facility that can handle those future needs rather than having to move your parent from independent living to assisted living in the near future.
If you think you’ve found the right community, spend some time reading through all the documentation carefully before signing on the dotted line. Make sure you understand the discharge policy, the monthly rate for housing and care, and what services that rate includes.
When your loved one is ready to make the move to assisted living, preparation, a positive attitude, a supportive network of family and friends, and patience and understanding will prepare you for a smooth transition.
So how can you know when it’s time to start considering making the move into assisted living? The answer isn’t going to be the same for everybody, but there are seven are signs you can watch for. Download our eBook to make sure your loved ones get the level of care they need to thrive in the next phase of life.