Worried About a Move to Senior Living? Don’t Be!

Worried About a Move to Senior Living? Don’t Be!

Worried About a Move to Senior Living? Don’t Be!

The vast majority of our society’s fears about senior living communities are inaccurate. Over the past decade, baby boomers have reinvented what senior living really means. Today there are a wide range of state-of-the-art senior living communities, from totally independent living to assisted living for those who need day-to-day help.

These options all aim to provide seniors with a lifestyle tailored to their individual interests and needs, while also offering the necessary care to remain mentally, physically, and socially healthy.

If you, a parent, or a senior loved are worried about making a move to senior living, the following information may help allay some of those fears.

  1. “I’ll be bored.”

With the activities and amenities offered by today’s senior living communities, there’s no time to be bored. Senior housing has evolved to offer everything from field trips and outdoor excursions to fitness and personal enrichment classes.

  1. “I’ll drain my finances.”

Yes, senior living can seem financially daunting, but if you’re already thinking about how to afford the care, you’re ahead of the curve. With some financial planning and maybe a little help from Social Security or VA benefits senior living communities just might cost less than staying at home.

  1. “I’m afraid I won’t receive the best care for me.”

There’s far more to senior living than the stereotype of adult children dropping off their parents with random strangers. When it’s time to move to senior living, the process of decision-making is one that should involve the entire family and your senior loved one should be just as comfortable with their new home as you are moving them there. Caregivers should maintain regular contact with senior loved ones, particularly in the weeks after the first move.

  1. “I will get old and sick faster.”

Whether you’re old or young, it’s being alone or isolated that leads to anxiety and depression, while the social contact a senior living community provides is key to better health and quality of life. If a senior loved one is already ill, with Alzheimer’s disease for example, memory care offers daily stimulation, customized care and planned activities, all of which can actually slow down the progress of an illness or even improve behavior and health.

  1. “I will lose my independence.”

While some seniors fear that senior living is equal to a loss of independence, the truth is in fact much the opposite. If you choose assisted living, you’ll have help with cleaning, cooking, and other chores that only become more difficult over time. What senior living offers is greater freedom with the precious time you do have. To make that time happy and rewarding, communities provide ample opportunity for social activities on-site as well as transportation around the area when you need it.

  1. “I won’t be able to control my daily activities or life.”

Moving to a new residence and letting go of long-held habits of daily life these are often realities of getting older, but they can be difficult and require a major adjustment. Take your loved one’s concerns seriously and don’t minimize their feelings. The fact is, assisted living can be a necessary and freeing step for both seniors and their families. If it is already too difficult for a senior to care for herself independently, or for caregivers to provide the necessary help, then assisted living may be a good option. The emphasis is on safety and security, but also independence and privacy, enabling each resident to have the care they need without compromising individual dignity.

  1. “People will forget about me.”

It’s natural to worry about being alone, especially if you define yourself by those relationships you value. However, moving into senior living doesn’t mean you’ll lose those relationships. In fact, you just might value them even more. At the same time, a senior community provides new venues for social contact, not to mention onsite help when there’s an emergency.

When Parents Resist Moving to Senior Living

When Parents Resist Moving to Senior Living

When Parents Resist Moving to Senior Living

Your elderly parents say they won’t move out of the home they have lived in for decades.

It’s a common, exhausting scenario. You see signs that your aging parent(s) need help, but they refuse it. They insist that they’re fine on their own, but the evidence and your intuition tell you that’s not true. Perhaps one or both of your parents’ health has taken a turn for the worse. Or, maybe after months or years of being a caregiver, you’re experiencing burnout and see your own health and relationships deteriorating.

Yet, having the conversation and ultimately moving elderly parents to assisted living, or another form of senior living, is probably one of the hardest decisions an adult child will ever have to make. Many seniors unrealistically believe they can take care of themselves for the rest of their lives. That’s why family members can be instrumental in identifying problems and making changes to help their loved ones.

Reasons We Feel Guilty

Even when you know relocating your parents to a senior living community is the right thing to do for their safety and health, guilty feelings may arise.

No matter our age, the role reversal is uncomfortable

For many adult children, their desire is to have their parents remain decision-makers. They often become upset when they have to take over those roles and feel guilty about the role reversal.

The feeling of failed caregiving efforts

For some adult children, the act of moving loved ones into assisted living loudly declares that they can’t handle taking care of their parents. The paradox is that children want nothing more than to ease their parents’ pain and suffering even temporarily sacrificing their own comfort to improve the quality of their parents’ lives.

Not delivering on the promise of never putting your parent in a nursing home

While in the past, you may have made the promise to your parent of never putting them in a eldercare setting, decisions must be made based on what’s best for the parent at the given time. Oftentimes, having a parent move to senior living can be the most loving act a child can do because it can greatly improve the quality of the parent’s life from a medical and social perspective. Parents often thrive in a senior living environment, which may surprise some adult children.

Knowing that we’re asking a lot from our parents

Change is hard for everyone, and a move to assisted living or long-term care is a big change. Suddenly, you’re asking your parents to form new acquaintances, trust professional caregivers, navigate unfamiliar schedules, and acclimate to new environments.

Make It Your Problem…Not Theirs

While a large percentage of adult children fully realize that “earlier is better than later” when it comes to discussing a move to assisted living, many still find themselves putting it off. The harsh reality is that by doing so, delays can often bring about a needless crisis situation, which can result in caregiver guilt and added stress. If you have the discussion early and often, your loved one will be better prepared for the next steps.

As for what to say? Try to make it your problem, instead of your parents’ problem. Clearly express your concern by saying something like, “Mom, I’m concerned about you. It makes me worried to see you like this.” Nine out of ten parents don’t want to burden their children, and will often respond to this sort of honest communication. If you make clear to your loved one that you’re focused on doing what’s best for both of you, it can be easier for them to accept change.

Three Ways to Cope with Guilt

Whether the process goes smoothly or if there are bumps along the way, children often have guilty feelings about moving elderly parents to assisted living or long-term care.

Here are three ways to cope:

1 – Focus on the small victories

Did your parent enjoy a meal or activity in their new home? Do you sleep better knowing they’re less likely to fall in their new surroundings? When guilt creeps in, remind yourself of the benefits of their new home. “Small victories” include excellent palliative care, creating meaningful activities even keeping our parents together as long as possible.

2 – Accept some uncertainty

Being put in the position to make critical arrangements for others is often hugely stressful. When the task concerns relocating your parents to an assisted living community or nursing home a decision with enormous financial and lifestyle consequences the anxiety and second-guessing can be even higher.

3 – Give it time

As with any change, there will be an adjustment period for children and for their aging parents. It will likely take time for your parents’ relocation to senior living to bear fruit. Strike up a conversation with family members visiting their loved ones and ask them how they dealt with the change. Enjoy meaningful moments with your loved one, and restorative time doing what you like to do, during this transition time.

Assessing Your Loved One’s Ability to Complete Activities of Daily Living

Assessing Your Loved One’s Ability to Complete Activities of Daily Living

Assessing Your Loved One’s Ability to Complete Activities of Daily Living

If you recently accompanied your parent to their annual medical check-up, your loved one or you may have been asked if mom or dad needs help with their “ADLs” or “IADLs.” Activities of Daily Living (ADLs) and Instrumental Activities of Daily Living (IADLs) are standard concepts that are utilized for senior care. They provide a basis for caregivers to evaluate the independence and capabilities of a senior, and make care decisions accordingly. However, until you first encounter the terms and what they mean, these acronyms and concepts can be an unknown.

What are ADLs and IADLs?

ADLs are basic tasks a person needs to be able to do on their own to live independently. Health issues and aging may make it difficult for seniors to complete certain everyday self-care tasks that are essential to keep them healthy and safe.

The “Katz Index of Independence in Activities of Daily Living” is an effective tool used to assess overall health and functional status of older adults and those with disabilities. This system was developed by Sidney Katz and the Benjamin Rose Hospital in Cleveland, Ohio in the 1950s, and has been used ever since. Basic ADLs include six essential skills:

1 – Bathing and showering: the ability to bathe self and maintain dental, hair, and nail hygiene

2 – Continence: having complete control of bowels and bladder

3 – Dressing: the ability to select appropriate clothing and outerwear, and to dress oneself independently

4 – Mobility: being able to walk or transfer from one place to another, specifically in and out of a bed or chair

5 – Feeding (excluding meal preparation): the ability to get food from plate to mouth, and to chew and swallow

6 – Toileting: the ability to get on and off the toilet and clean self without assistance

What are instrumental activities of daily living (IADLs)?

Instrumental Activities of Daily Living, or IADLs, are more complex activities required for senior independent living that often involve thinking and organizational skills. IADLs outlined by the Lawton-Brody scale assessment include:

  • Cleaning and housekeeping, including maintenance and other home care chores
  • Doing laundry
  • Managing money
  • Managing medications and taking medicines as directed
  • Preparing meals
  • Shopping for groceries and other necessities
  • Transportation, including changing residences and moving
  • Using communication devices, including the telephone and computer

Why are ADLs and IADLs important for caregivers?

ADLs represent everyday tasks that challenge both mental and physical capabilities. A person needs to have the physical ability to perform ADL tasks themselves, as well as the planning and mental capacity to conceptualize the tasks and understand what needs to be done.

Conversely, a decline in the ability to complete basic ADLs may not be noticeable until later stages of dementia or physical disability.

Knowing your loved one’s ability to complete ADLs can help you and your aging parent’s doctor answer these questions:

  • Do you or a neighbor need to check on your aging parent routinely?
  • Does your aging loved one need physical therapy?
  • Is your aging parent able to continue living independently?
  • Would moving to an assisted living community be beneficial?

ADLs can also help caregivers and health care professionals understand the level of care needed. The level of care for someone who can’t complete IADLs is different from the care needed by someone who can’t complete basic ADLs.

In some cases, IADL deficiencies may be managed by different service providers, such as a senior meal preparation or delivery service, a housekeeper, or a money management professional. ADLs require more intensive, hands-on care.

Unfortunately, families rarely ask about ADLs until a parent or senior loved one is going through the process of assessment for long-term care. Experts highly recommend bringing up changes in a loved one’s ability to do these tasks when talking with a physician. It’s a good idea to share changes in ADLs with your loved one’s medical team because:

  • A change in an ADL can trigger medical evaluations that may uncover a medical issue. It’s important to understand the root cause of the problem or change in ability.
  • Understanding root causes can help you and your loved one’s doctor work together to find ways to improve function. Some common ways to improve function include medical treatment, physical therapy, or device such as a walker.
  • Understanding ADLs is critical to having an accurate care plan. If your parent’s doctor doesn’t realize there’s a functional problem, the care plan they create may not be in line with your loved one’s abilities. For example, if the doctor isn’t aware that your loved one is sometimes forgetful, then their expectation that your parent can regularly monitor their blood sugar on their own may not be realistic.

How are ADLs and IADLs Assessed?

ADLs and IADLs can be assessed in a variety of ways. Caregiver input can be helpful to create a bigger picture of a person’s functional status. However, caregiver burnout and the tendency to overestimate or underestimate someone’s true abilities can make this method less accurate than others.

Self-reporting can also help get the conversation about ADLs started. No one understands a situation better than the person experiencing it. Self-reporting is especially helpful when individuals have minimal cognitive decline. However, self-report measures leave the results open to a person’s interpretation.

While a health care professional’s report is often believed to provide the most objective view of a person’s functional status, a combination of assessments may fully capture the picture of disability for a given individual.

The three types of ADL assessments physicians use…

Health care professionals commonly use these tools to assess ADLs:

The Katz Index of Independence in Activities of Daily Living – This is the best choice for patients in long-term care, where disability is generally more severe and stable.

The Barthel ADL Index – This assessment covers two additional domains, including grooming and stairs. It’s best suited to acute care settings, as it is more detailed and better detects subtle changes in a person’s health.

The Functional Independence Measure (FIM) – This option is more comprehensive, combining ADLs with IADLs and other domains.

Signs that it’s time to assess ADLs and IADLs

Keep an eye out for specific safety factors when visiting a senior relative, including:

  • Driving – Have there been any accidents or close calls? Do passengers feel worried?
  • Elder abuse – Do you have any concerns about emotional, financial, physical, or verbal abuse?
  • Finances – Are there problems paying bills? Are you concerned about scams?
  • Health – Has your loved one had any falls? Have there been repeated trip to the Emergency Room or hospital?
  • Memory and thinking – Have there been problems with forgetting, getting lost, or wandering? Is there concern about poor awareness or poor judgment?

If you answered “yes” to any of the above questions, it may be time to assess your aging loved one’s ADLs and IADLs, either by a medical professional or from your perspective as a family member.

ADL and IADL Assessment Tips for Caregivers

As you assess your loved one’s ADL and IADL capabilities, follow these tips:

Ask your siblings’, friends’, or neighbors’ opinions

Inquire about any changes you’ve noticed in your loved one’s abilities. Pick two or three people to discuss your concerns.

Assess on a spectrum

Ask yourself whether your loved one can do the task a little bit, sometimes, or often rather than a simple “yes, they can do the task,” or “no, they can’t.”

Be patient

If a person is doing a task more slowly than they used to, it doesn’t necessarily mean they can’t do the task at all.

Consider the time of day and how tired they are

Many seniors have sharper cognitive abilities and more energy in the morning.

Consider their health

If they’re fatigued or fighting a virus, their abilities can be briefly impaired.

Take the extra time

While it can be common to be in a hurry, and difficult to find the time to make an extended observation, it’s important to take as much time as needed and be patient in order to make an accurate assessment

Look at your own preconceived notions about your loved one

Are they interfering with your ability to make an impartial assessment?

Make the effort to help correct what you can

Ensure your loved one can live life to the best of his/her ability and as independently as possible.

If your loved one is unable to perform daily tasks outlined in the ADLs and IADLs, or if you have other safety factors, it may be time to discuss increasing their level of support or moving to an assisted living community.

ADLs and IADLs: A Checklist for The Elderly

When it comes to assessing ADLs and IADLs, there’s a lot of technical information about different assessments. This can be overwhelming for families to navigate.

  • Ask your aging parent’s doctor if a change in medical plan is required (for example, a complicated diabetes plan may need to be revised).
  • Ask if your loved one qualifies for a service like Medicaid.
  • Ask what’s causing any issues or inabilities.
  • Be aware of your loved one’s true abilities when it comes to ADLs and IADLs.
  • Consider whether the limitations have short- or long-term implications.
  • Help your loved one remain independent as long as possible with adaptive assistance.
  • Seek treatment.

How to get help with ADLs for your loved one

If you’re worried about your loved one’s ability to perform everyday tasks, connect with their doctor to discuss your concerns. It’s important to identify any limitations your aging parent may have, but it’s even more critical to support them by finding solutions to help solve or alleviate those limitations, or by finding the care they need.

Taking these steps will help your loved one to be as independent as possible so they can enjoy a greater quality of life.

In some cases, simple lifestyle adjustments such as hearing or vision aids, physical therapy, or assistive devices to make bathing, transferring, or using the toilet easier can help your loved one perform ADSs independently.

If your aging parent needs additional help, consider contacting The Classic to learn more about how our assisted living services can provide different levels of care to fit your loved one’s needs.