Chapter 1: When Is The Right Time to Move Into Assisted Living?
The first thing you should know is that there is no "right time" for someone to move to a retirement setting. The truth is, even approaching the subject of moving with your parents may be uncomfortable. You may need to take time and "plant seeds" months ahead of time so they can start getting comfortable with the idea. And it may be that they will simply never be truly comfortable with the idea at all.
Here are a few thought starters to help both you can your parents consider this difficult topic:
Does your parent need help with the following?
Are there systems in place to take care of the following?
- House cleaning
- Lawn maintenance
- House maintenance
- Paying bills
Are they following "basics" of daily living being met?
When seniors contemplate moving, most are concerned about what they will lose.
Their perception of "loss" takes on many forms, such as:
- Loss of the ability to drive
- Loss of the opportunity to fix meals
- Loss of possessions such as furniture, artwork, etc. in their home
It is important to remember that loss doesn't have to mean giving up all of these tasks or doing away with beloved items. It may simply mean that they can no longer do something like driving and will need to use arranged transportation to do their shopping. Or it may mean culling down their furniture in order to downsize, keeping the pieces they love most.
Remember, loss is part of the grieving process.
Loss is a normal part of life; it can be part of a person's growth. Allow your parents time to reminisce about their lives and their possessions. Allow time for the process to take place and you may have an easier time encouraging them to consider retirement living.
Another thing to look for when contemplating a move is whether your parent's current home has visual clues that it is time for a change.
When you visit their home, is everything as it should be?
- Refrigerator empty or stocked with old foods?
- Dirty clothing in the bathroom; some older people believe hand washing their clothes is easier than running the washing machine.
- Bruises or scrapes on you parents skin. This could mean they are experiencing falls or dizziness.
- Mail stacked up could indicate memory loss or depression.
You know you parents much better than anyone else so you will recognize when something is "odd". For example, when you visit, does your mother make the very same meal every time? If that is a new behavior, it could be that she has forgotten how to make other dishes. Or, ten years ago, that cat would never have been allowed on the furniture, but now you find it sleeping comfortably on the kitchen table? Normal is different for all of us. Your lifelong history with your parents allows you to know what is "normal" in their world.
Is the time right to make the move to a retirement community?
This is an emotional and difficult question, and by now, you know that your parents may have different answer than you have. There are extreme cases where a senior is obviously at risk, but most situations are not that clear. Take a moment to ask your parents the following questions. This will assist in determining if you loved one could benefit from a move to a retirement living community:
- Do you worry about your personal safety and health?
- Do you snack instead of eating balanced meals?
- Do you worry that in an emergency there is no one to help?
- Is the upkeep of your home becoming more that you can handle without assistance?
- Are you becoming increasingly dependent on others to assist you so that you can continue to live on your own?
- Are housekeeping and laundry becoming more difficult?
- Do you have to arrange for appointments and outings around others' schedules, or is it difficult to find transportation?
- Are you alone more than three days per week?
- Have you decreased the amount of time you spend involved in activities inside or outside your home?
- Do you want to regain your independence?
If your parent answered YES to three or more of these questions, it may be time to consider a move to a retirement community.
As you have these conversations, remind your parents that there are retirement communities that can help them to make new friends, eat better meals, and overall have a more fulfilling life. Hopefully, over time, they will come to see this move in a more positive and welcoming light.
This is Chapter one of a six chapter guide to helping your parents transition into a senior living community. Has this been helpful? Read the other chapters including:
1. The Right Time to Move Into Assisted Living?
Learn signs that indicate it might be time for your parents to move into assisted living and read tips on how to talk with your parents about making the transition.
2. Senior Living Levels of Care
Understand the distinctions between each level of care in senior living communities: active adult/age restricted, independent, assisted living, memory care and skilled nursing.
Are you feeling like the time is right to transition to assisted living and mom or dad is refusing to go? Get some ideas on how to continue the discussion.
Bingo is not the only game in town. Learn about the state-of-the-art amenities and active life enrichment programs offered at most senior living communities.
Get tips on how to tour a senior living community, including questions to ask during your visit and an evaluation checklist.
Learn about Spectrum Retirement Communities, including its flexible, affordable, month-to-month retirement rental programs in multiple locations across the US.