Among the major benefits of assisted living is that it can actually give your Mom the independence she needs. I strive to understand why families and residents wait so long to start their process of research on assisted living. Are we afraid to approach this subject with Mom? Do you find yourself thinking, she will get better, or “we can handle this” at least for a little bit longer?
Do you feel guilty that you wish you could do more, but you have so many other responsibilities that this is all the time you can give? Or instead, is it that you don’t know enough about when assisted living is needed to decide.
Starting the Process
Where and how do you start the process? The senior living industry is full of difficult choices and decisions that need to be made by you and your loved one. Do you choose Assisted Living or Independent Living, Memory Care, homecare, a SNF (Skilled Nursing Facility), rehab or even adult day care?
The options can seem endless and overwhelming, so what are the benefits of assisted living, when should it be considered and where do we begin?
Beth’s Story Could Be Yours
Just one story from Sondra Jones, Chief Marketing Officer. When I was a Marketing Director in one of our communities, I was working with a woman, let us call her Beth. Beth had been taking care of her mother-in-law in her home for a few years.
She would call me every few months or so and say things were getting bad, that “she could not do this anymore” and now ready to move forward. We would set a time with me to meet and she would cancel.
On her last call to me she was crying and said she was at her wits end. She came to meet with me the next day and she said to me, “we are actually all set for now but would really like some more information for when we are ready.”
I asked Beth what ready looked like to their family. Beth said when her mother-in-law could no longer use the bathroom on her own. I am always honest yet sincere when working with families and told her that at that point, she will have missed many of the benefits of assisted living.
Benefits of Assisted Living
So, what are the benefits of assisted living you ask? Assisted living is a lifestyle. If you choose to be social, you can have an active lifestyle.
Assisted living allows for an active independent lifestyle with a full array of activities including outings to restaurants, the casino, or maybe a ride to enjoy the fall foliage in New England or holiday light displays with hot chocolates and caroling.
For residents that prefer privacy you may choose to not attend those outings or events. The choice is yours. Just going down to the dining room three times a day may be enough socialization for you.
Our residents enjoy delicious and nutritious meals in the dining room three times a day. Our residents also make friendships and find camaraderie among their peers. The benefits of these examples of socialization far outweigh a senior who is isolated and alone in their home.
I feel many families place so much emphasis on the health aspects and not enough on the social aspects. Being surrounded by people with so many shared experiences can be a revelation.
Safety and Security
Peace of mind for our residents and their families is my favorite benefit of living in assisted living.
Have you ever called Mom and she does not answer the phone, or it is busy, busy, busy?
Now your mind is racing…did she fall? Is she ok? Now you jump out of bed and drive 30 minutes across town to make sure Mom is safe.
If Mom was living in assisted living it takes one phone call to our team (anytime, day or night) to say, “Can you please go check on my Mom? She is not answering her phone and I am worried.” One of our caring team members will check on her and call you right back to let you know all is well and she is safe.
Peace of mind is finding comfort in the fact that Mom is safe and being well cared for. Peace of mind prevents stress, anxieties, worries and fear. Doesn’t that sound reassuring?
Not a Nursing Home
We are a community. Our parents’ generation think of assisted living as a nursing home, a place to be avoided at all costs. This makes families feel very uneasy and nervous about making such an important decision on behalf of their loved one.
I assure you that when Mom comes in to visit with us or enjoys a lunch or activity with us, those thoughts and worries dissipate. She will get to see what an actual day in this lifestyle looks like. She will see other residents interacting, laughing and enjoying each other’s company. She will see a beautiful and cozy community that she can envision herself being a part of.
Independence in Assisted Living
We often hear families say, “Mom does not want to lose her independence”, but, that is just not the case at The Arbors. The independence Mom will gain while living in assisted living is so much more satisfying than what she can do living on her own at home.
In assisted living our residents are renting an apartment, they come and go as they please, even cook their own meal in their apartment if that is something they enjoy. Our residents can sip on a glass of wine while watching a movie in their apartment or meet with their friends in our pub for cocktail hour and some entertainment. They can sit outside in their favorite rocking chair and relax or cozy up by the fire to read a good book. The possibilities are endless.
How does this compare to how Mom is spending her days now? Does she wake up, watch TV, eat breakfast, take a nap, eat lunch, watch TV, fall asleep in her chair?
Live Life to Its Fullest
It is easy for us to assume that at this stage in Mom’s life, it’s ok that she isn’t as social as she used to be, or that she spends most of her day alone and watching TV.
But why be isolated when there is still a life to live?
I feel it is our job, as family, to give Mom her independence back, to still have her own life and to start living again!
When Is It the Right Time?
So back to the question at hand, when is the right time for assisted living? The answer differs for everyone, but it is typically much earlier that you would think. A few signs it’s time to start researching; memory loss, repetitive questions/stories, more confusion than normal, not cooking or eating nutritious meals, no social interaction in their home (outside of her main caretaker).
THE most common……not properly taking medications and the worry and stress it causes you the caregiver… these are all at the top of the list of concerns we hear often.
Start early, be prepared, and let us alleviate your stress as a caregiver to your loved one.
Now is the Right Time to Start Living Again
I will end with this…I repeat, why be isolated when there is still a life to live? An independent life. What I have heard from families more than anything else is “I don’t know why we waited so long to make this move”. The benefits of assisted living should make the choice more obvious, sooner.