Thursday, February 25, 2010

Is It Time for Assisted Living?

Since this blog is dedicated to helping people age in place, i.e., to stay in their homes as they age, it might seem antithetical for me to be writing about assisted living. But sometimes, moving into senior or assisted living is a prudent choice. I’ve decided to write about this topic because one of my friends is going through conniptions as she and her parents grapple with the decision. Some representatives from The Greens at Cannondale in Wilton, CT, came and talked to a small group of us from Aging in Place in Darien a couple of months ago. They had a list of questions to help people with the decision. I can't remember all of the questions. So I made up my own list to send to my friend. I'm sharing it with all of you.

How do you know when it is time to move to assisted living?

This is a loaded question. How can a functioning, with-it adult decide that the time is right? How can a confused, forgetful adult make such a decision? How can adult children help their parents make the decision – and stick with it? All we can do is to start asking questions.

As you ask them, you could also consider – How easy would it be to hire the help you need so that you can stay in your home? What would it cost? Would renting an apartment or small home and bringing in help be a smart solution in this awful housing market?

Then, weigh the pros and cons – the costs and benefits of both scenarios.

Transportation:
Do you drive with no difficulty day and night?
If not, who does the driving?
Do you need help getting in and out of the vehicle?
Would it be easier if someone else took care of transportation?

Mobility:
Can you walk without assistance?
Do you fall often?
Do you need a walker or cane or wheelchair?
Would you like a little more help?
Could your home or apartment be made easier to navigate?
Or would it be better to be in an environment that was made to make it easy to get around and do things?

Social & Emotional:
Do you have friends?
Do you have social engagements?
How much do you get out?
Do you enjoy friends and going out?
Would it be easier to walk down the hall to play bridge, have a coffee, share a cup of tea, have a meal or join in other activities?
What if you could take a van with friends to a concert or play?

Mental
(This is for the adult kids to answer)
Is your parent alert and engaged intellectually?
Is he or she withdrawn?
Is he or she often confused or forgetful?
Are there signs of dementia?
Could an environment in which people who care about your parent, and are there to help, be really helpful?

Food
Do you still want to shop for your food?
Can you prepare all your meals?
Are they good meals? Do you still enjoy cooking?
Would you prefer to dine with others and have some or all of your meals prepared for you?
Do you need help with eating?

Medication
How many medications do you take?
How do you keep track of what you take and when?
Could you use some help by having an aide give you your pills exactly when you need them?

Bathing and Grooming
Can you do all the facets of bathing, grooming, etc?
Do you need any help?
Would grab-bars in the bathroom be helpful?
Is someone around to help you if you get stuck?
Can you easily call for help if you fall?
Have you ever gotten stuck and felt frustrated?
Do you still shave, wash your face, brush your teeth, comb your hair, put on make-up?
Do you have an problems with incontinence? Little accidents?

Your Senses
How well do you hear, see, taste and smell?
Do you wear glasses or a hearing aid?
Can you keep track of them?

Housing
How well can you maintain your home?
Do you still clean? (dust, floors, bathroom, kitchen)
Can you still change light bulbs, etc.?
Take care of outside maintenance (lawn, gutters, etc)?

Be thoughtful, serious and honest as you answer these questions. Be open. The answers may lead you to making a really smart decision.

Anyone else out there who has better or other questions, please make comments on this blog. Just click on “Comments”.

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