Fall and Winter seem to be the time of year that many families look at their current living situation. Summer vacations are over, kids are back in school, and Adult Children find themselves re-looking at how their parents are doing physically, mentally, and medically. Can they still continue living on their own? When is the right time for them to move closer to family, or to find senior living options that will enable their parents to be more engaged socially, to each better, and generally live their best lives at their current age and moving forward.
So how does that decision get made? When I am working with families, even if the parents think they want to continue living in their own home, I look at several categories of their life. Social activities, nutrition, medical need, and finances are the key to making the right choices.
The level of your social activity for your loved one has a huge impact on the happiness factor in life. Are your parents at an age where their friends are no longer nearby for them to get together with for activities? Has their world grown smaller to where they only see you and the grandkids when time permits? Are they no longer creating their own social activities such as going to the senior center, joining a book club, keeping up with hobbies they used to love? Senior housing has changed tremendously over the years. Now it is like living on a cruise ship! Literally! Your meals are cooked for you and you make friends by a variety of means including going to the dining room for lunch and entertainment. Senior housing communities have an incredible number of social activities, classes, and events that all cater specifically to those who are living there. The gym, beauty salon, movie nights, and a bistro are all avenues to become connected with new friends. The activities director checks in with the seniors who are currently residents, so that if some are interested in a bridge club for instance, the activities director will get one going! There are not only numerous activities at the community location but there are also trips offered. They can be anything from Las Vegas, a local theater show, museums, or a day site-seeing in the city.
Nutrition is another important factor to look at when making a decision about the living situation. Do your loved ones cook for themselves? While cooking for two works out well, cooking for one is often a chore. I know for myself that when I am eating alone, I don’t always make the best choices, particularly because cooking is not a hobby of mine. Imagine if that is what most days look like for a senior. Nutrition is also a piece of the happiness and health factor. We all know that when we eat poorly it takes a toll on our bodies and our physical health. There are a variety of ways that good nutrition can be accomplished when eating at home but there are factors that make or break the consistency of eating well. A person with mild dementia often does not make good choices even if there is a planned out meal in the fridge. Senior housing communities create delicious meals that are planned with senior nutrition in mind. There is usually a set menu, with specials, and you can always order a lunch menu item for dinner if you prefer. Personally, I will be the first one to head to the dining room!
Another reason to seek out a new living situation are the medical conditions that your parent/s are encountering. When chronic conditions start interfering with daily living activities, it may be time to seek out greater support. That support can come in the form of in home care, however, in home care is not a means to greater socialization. We would like to hope that the professional caregiver is giving that social aspect so greatly needed but it isn’t something that can be forced and they may simply be caring out the job of cooking, cleaning and driving but not helping the older person to be more socially active by taking walks with them, or playing cards. Also, there isn’t a great method for monitoring it, particularly if your loved one has dementia and isn’t able to remember what they did that day. In home caregivers are also not able to help to manage medications unless they have a license to do so.
How to Choose The Best Senior Housing
Once it is determined that a senior housing community is the next phase for your parents, how do you choose the best one? While your friend may tell you that their parent loves their senior community, that community may not fit your parent’s needs. There are several factors that go into making the right choice and you don’t want your parents to have to move more than once. It is best to consult with a care manager like myself who can do the proper evaluation of your loved one’s needs along with finding the right community that they can afford. Where I live there are over 500 choices for senior living and it is overwhelming to try to figure it out alone.
I feel strongly that in order for people to live their best lives they need to live with people who are functioning at or even higher than themselves. I believe that we all rise to the occasion when we are living that way. An analogy that I use is that when I play tennis I want to play with those who are better than I am so that I can become better at tennis. It pushes me to play more fully.
Each of the above factors contribute to deciding on the right time for a change in living circumstance. If you are unsure how to go about the processes and how to work with your parent to achieve the best living for your parent/s contact Lisa for a 30 – minute complimentary session to help you put the pieces together! Click HERE to schedule a time to talk with Lisa!