The decision to move to Assisted Living can be a source of great conflict within families with aging loved ones no longer able to live alone. After getting settled in their new home, Regency residents often tell us, “I wish I had done this years ago”. But there was a time when they, too, were apprehensive about this life-changing situation and the implications on their independence.
Jeff Clay, Regency’s Vice President of Business Development, compared the process to the nervousness that a high school graduate feels going off to a college dorm -- except the “senior” is reversed with the child help the parent move to a new place. It’s not unusual for there to be initial feelings of homesickness and anxiety about making new friends in an unfamiliar place.
An aging parent may be adamant about not leaving a home where he or she has sentimental attachments, but grown children should encourage their senior parents to make such a movie before health worsens or there’s some sort of accident essentially forcing the decision. Actions taken during crisis situations may wreak chaos, especially if the parent is confused with the onset of dementia, so the process goes more smoothly with adequate contemplation and preparation.
“Seniors may have a preconceived notion that Assisted Living is going to be a cold, hospital-like setting, but when they visit, they quickly realize that living at Regency simply means having an apartment, except there’s help available to do things like housekeeping, laundry and remembering to take their medications. Residents are free to come and go, and they enjoy delicious meals in a social dining area, along with planned activities,” Clay said.
This is a contrast to nursing homes, which are primarily focused on providing skilled medical care. Regency offers an alternative that balances the senior’s desire to have social opportunities with the rest of the family’s need to have the peace-of-mind that help is never far away. If a resident with a closed door falls in their room, pull stations next to the bed and in the bathroom with adjustable length cords can summon help, in contrast to homes that typically lack such amenities.
Clay said when siblings are involved in the decision to move a parent, there may be disagreement on what to do. A local caregiver may have a different opinion than another child who lives far away and doesn’t see the parents as often. The remote family may not realize how frail a parent has become or the heavy toll circumstances can take on the primary caregiver who lives closer. In these instances, Clay encourages the children to weigh all their options and look at the situation objectively.
- Some signs that it is time to consider a move to Assisted Living:
- When cooking is too much trouble or housework is too difficult.
- When a senior can’t remember when to take medicine.
- When the only human interaction is a family member or an occasional visit from a church friend.
- When a senior becomes afraid to be alone in the home.
- When family members spend more time taking care of the housework, yard maintenance, repairs and caring for a senior than they do making great memories.
- When the senior can no longer drive or has to depend on others to go shopping or to appointments.
As seniors age and mobility becomes an issue, their social circles begin to shrink. Much like the incoming college freshman who is anxious at first but eventually makes friends at a university, senior citizens can find that the future is their next, exciting chapter of life.
Although it can be a difficult conversation to have at family gatherings, “the talk” does not necessarily have to be negative if there’s honest communication. Experts recommend that grown children share their genuine concerns and listen to how the senior feels, presenting options to choose from rather than dictating to parents what is going to happen.
Take the time to shop around for the best community for the parent, factoring in location, services and activities offered, and how much the elderly parent likes a place. They may not like the prospect of moving out of their home, but they will almost certainly have a preference on where they’d rather be if it eventually happens. For many, they settle on Regency because of our “family” type atmosphere as much as the amenities.
A short-term stay, i.e., “trying it out”, might be in order since Regency’s apartments are available on a month-to-month basis. Someone can usually tell after a couple of weeks whether Assisted Living is for them. This is normal for someone recovering from a surgery who may need help for a short period with daily tasks, so it can apply to someone getting a feel for our place before deciding whether to sell their home.
When a new resident arrives at a Regency community, we conduct an activity survey and talk to the family so we can begin to get a sense of what the senior considers fun. New residents are paired with others who they may have something in common with. Coming together regularly for meals in a social dining area is a sure way to make friends fast. Regency staff may visit the room to encourage residents to participate in scheduled activities, but they also respect residents’ privacy.
These are just a few of the things to consider when thinking about moving an aging or disabled loved one to an Assisted Living Community.
For more information, visit http://regencyseniorliving.com/ To learn more about Regency Retirement Village, call (615) 598-0245.