You may have heard your parent(s) say that they want to stay in their home as they get older. Sometimes it comes out as, “They’ll have to take me out of here feet first!”, or some variation on the sentiment. You would think we can honor that relatively simple wish, particularly with all the services available to senior for in-home companionship, nursing care, etc. Despite those resources, the day may come when you have to seriously consider a move to assisted living.
There’s a short list of things to consider in order of importance to think about when determining if a move to assisted living might be appropriate (please note that the order may change for 3-5, but 1 and 2 should always stay where they are!):
If visiting resources, like nurses, aides, companions can’t provide the level of care needed, or if your parent is confused and disabled so that their home environment is unsafe for them, then it may be time.
If you’re dealing with a degenerative disease, then it may be time. It’s far easier (hard to believe, right?) to make the plans and discuss the options while your parent(s) is capable of participating in the decision process. See our blog on Taking Charge without Taking Over. Allowing them to be a part of the discussion is so important for their self-esteem, positive attitude and ability to mentally absorb the future changes their body will force upon them.
Keep in mind that while it varies for everyone, you have a limited capacity and that at some point you simply cannot do more than you are already doing. Do you have the time, ability, strength, support from other family members to help your parents at the level they require (knowing it will only become more demanding) and still have the time and energy to care for your own family and other obligations? Do not underestimate the physical and emotional toll of caring for an aging parent(s). If you feel yourself pushed to the breaking point, then it may be time.
In-between your visits, is your parent isolated or lonely? If so, then it may be time. Are they able to interact with others on a daily basis? Aging forces our parent(s) to confront a growing loss of health and mobility, companions such as spouses and friends, etc. Don’t minimize this need as depression is common amongst the elderly. Some of the healthiest older persons are those who interact regularly with “children of all ages.”
What is the cost of your parent staying in their home versus moving to a community of other older persons? Take everything into account – mortgage, insurance, taxes, utilities, food, outside assistance, etc. Once you’ve done that, make smart decisions about how, what, where and when to expend those resources. Consult your financial planner to see what your budget in the short, medium and long term might be. If the costs of staying outweigh the costs of moving, then it may be time.
I strongly encourage you to consider each of these 5 elements – safety, health, bandwidth, socialization, and costs – as you discuss your parent’s need to move to an assisted living community environment.