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Assessing The Need For Assisted Living Before Having The Talk

Cynthia Perthuis September 2023 1

Elder Care Thought Leader: Cynthia Perthuis

As the years go by, the role of a caregiver to our aging parents can become more complex and challenging.

There comes a point when the question arises: Is it time to consider assisted living? This pivotal decision demands careful consideration, open conversations, and a deep understanding of your loved one’s needs.

In this four-part series entitled “Having the Talk” we will guide you through the process of determining whether assisted living is the right step for you and your loved one and we will walk you through the Where, When and How of Having the Talk and making the transition. It is a sad statistic, but 67% of dementia caregivers die before their loved one with dementia. If you are a caregiver team of one person, just you, it is time to look at other options. The time to plan is now. 

“The time to plan is now.”

Assessing the Current Situation:

Start by assessing your loved one’s current living situation and overall health. Consider their mobility, medical needs, and cognitive abilities. Evaluate whether they can comfortably manage daily tasks, such as bathing, cooking, and taking medication. Consider any safety concerns, such as the risk of falls and medication management. Look around your loved one’s home. Have they stopped cleaning their home or themselves? Are there dirty dishes in the sink and dirty clothes piling up? 

Signs It Might Be Time For Assisted Living:

Certain signs may indicate that it’s time to consider assisted living:

  • Healthcare Needs: If their medical needs are increasing and require constant attention it is time to ask yourself some questions. Can your loved one manage their own medication? Are they getting frequent infections? Do they have unexplained bruises? 
  • Isolation: If your loved one is becoming increasingly isolated due to limited mobility or a lack of social opportunities, an assisted living community can offer a vibrant social environment.
  • Safety Concerns: If your loved one has had accidents or near-misses, living in an environment with 24/7 assistance can significantly reduce risks. Would they know what to do if the fire alarm went off? 
  • Caregiver Stress: If you, as the caregiver, are feeling overwhelmed or your own health is being compromised, it may be time to explore other options. 

Comparing Costs:

While the cost of assisted living may seem daunting, it’s essential to weigh it against the expenses associated with staying at home. Consider the costs of in-home care, medical equipment, modifications to the home for safety, and potential missed work due to caregiving.

Factor in the peace of mind that comes with knowing your loved one is receiving proper care. On average in the United States the cost of in-home care ranges between $30-$40 per hour. If your loved one has memory concerns, it is likely they will need full-time care. This does not include the continued cost of upkeep of their home. Someone will also have to manage all the scheduling and management of in-home care. Consider also what happens during any kind of weather event like a heat wave, hurricane, flood, or blizzard. 

“If your loved one has memory concerns, it is likely they will need full-time care.”

Determine If Staying Home Is Feasible:

To determine if staying at home is the best scenario for your loved one here are four things to consider: 

  • Assess In-Home Care: Determine whether your loved one can safely remain at home with the help of in-home caregivers. Calculate the number of hours of care needed daily and weekly.
  • Safety Modifications: Evaluate the need for home modifications to enhance safety, such as installing grab bars, ramps, or an emergency alert system.
  • Social Engagement: Explore ways to ensure social engagement. Arrange regular visits from family and friends, as well as participation in local senior centers or clubs.
  • Medical Care: Consider the availability of medical care. If your loved one has complex medical needs, assess whether their home can accommodate necessary equipment and medical visits.

A Case for Assisted Living:

A study conducted by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) found that seniors who live in assisted living communities tend to have more active social lives than those who live alone. Social isolation can lead to loneliness and depression, which in turn can negatively impact physical and mental health.

Social isolation is also a contributor to dementia. Assisted living communities offer structured social activities and opportunities to form friendships, promoting a higher quality of life. Assisted living communities are required by law to have contingency plans in place for natural disasters. Often the staff and their family members move into the community so they can be there to help. 

Conclusion:

We encourage you to read the next three articles in this series “Having The Talk” before you begin the process or have a conversation with your loved one. If you need help examining your loved one’s situation, there are resource to help. Likewise, if you have determined that it is time to consider a Senior Living Community, we want to help you find the right one for your loved one. We know that not all senior living communities are created equal and have navigated this path with many families. 

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Cynthia Perthuis

About the Author:

Cynthia Perthuis left her cushy life in Corporate America in 2018 to use her personal experience with her parents and her entrepreneurial background to help the 10,000 people a day turning 65 in the US. The stress of helping aging loved ones and working full-time and caring for her own family while living over 1500 miles apart was overwhelming at times. She often wished there was a non-conflicted industry professional to help when facing these life-changing decisions. She has created her team at Senior Care Authority (www.scanyfl.com) for that purpose. Her team supports over 300 families a year as they navigate these decisions. For a free consultation, please call us at (239) 330-2133 or (212) 913-9963.