Making the decision to move your elderly parents into an assisted living facility can be a challenging and emotional experience. Many people feel guilty of even considering the option, and of course we want to help our aging relatives live a happy, healthy and independent life in their own home for as long as possible. Yet the truth is that at some point residential care becomes a necessity for almost everyone.
That said, there are plenty of steps you can take to make the transition to assisted living smoother for your mom or dad. At the end of the day, this decision is a personal one for you and your family. However, if you’re looking for some guidance, this post will discuss how to judge whether it’s time for your parents to make the move to assisted living, some advantages of living in care homes, and how to ensure the change is as easy as possible for them.
Knowing when it’s time for your parents to move to assisted living
There are many factors to consider when deciding whether it’s the right time for your mom or dad to move to a residential care facility. This includes their mental and physical health, personal preferences, your own life circumstances, and the financial costs involved. You don’t want to pressure them to make the change too early or when they’re not ready for it, yet at the same time you don’t want to leave it so late that they’re put at risk by living at home.
To help you out, here are some key signs that might indicate your elderly relative would be better off in the care of an assisted living facility:
- They require specialist medical care. For example, if your parent suffers from a serious healthcare condition that requires close attention around the clock or a lot of treatment, a care home will likely be the best place for them to receive it.
- You are concerned about their safety. Whether you’re worried about your parent falling over and injuring themselves or falling victim to scammers, assisted living will undoubtedly be safer for them.
- They are unable to carry out daily activities such as cooking, cleaning, bathing and dressing. This isn’t always easy to spot, because parents may be embarrassed and try to conceal the truth from you. Look out for warning signs such as weight loss, dirty clothes, neglected pets and mess around the house.
- Your mom or dad is lonely. Social isolation is actually one of the biggest health concerns for senior citizens, leading to an increased risk of medical conditions such as depression, anxiety and stroke.
Advantages of your parents living in a residential care facility
There are a huge number of advantages your elderly parents will gain by moving to assisted living. The more you look into what’s on offer, the more you’ll understand what a positive difference it can make to the lives of senior citizens. In fact, you might even be tempted to learn how to open your own RCFE (Residential Care Facility for the Elderly)!
Firstly, there are the healthcare benefits. As people age, they often develop medical conditions that require specialist attention. Although usually manageable at first, eventually it becomes impossible to provide such care in their own home. Residential care facilities have trained medical professionals on hand around the clock to look after residents with dignity and respect. This includes providing any necessary treatment or therapy, ensuring people take their medication, and responding promptly in an emergency.
The second area of benefit is safety. The facilities in an assisted living facility will have been specially designed with elderly residents in mind, making it easier for your mom and dad to move around without the risk of falling. Not only that, but they will also have many of their daily tasks such as cleaning, laundry and cooking taken care of for them – thus reducing the chances of accidents happening.
Finally, residential care facilities are great ways to ensure that your parents have meaningful social interactions. Many offer fun activities such as art workshops, fitness classes and outings to nearby places of interest, so your mom or dad will be able to continue taking part in their favourite hobbies or even pick up new ones. This kind of human interaction is key for not only boosting mood, but also staving off cognitive decline and ensuring a higher quality of life for longer.
Smoothing the transition to assisted living
There are many actions you can take to help make the move into a residential care facility easier for your mom or dad. The first point is to always be open and honest when talking about the topic and give your parent time to get used to the idea rather than forcing it upon them (unless rapidly deteriorating health or another emergency means you must act quickly).
Try to visit several potential care homes with your loved one, to find out firsthand what living there is like. You will be able to talk to the administrators about the programs and services they offer and alleviate any concerns you may have. Be sure to get your parents’ input on the sort of assisted living facility they would prefer, and the level of support they would like to have.
Having chosen a location, remember that the first few days and weeks are critical for ensuring that your mom or dad settles in happily. It may take some time for them to adjust to the new place and routine, so try to be patient and listen attentively to any concerns they raise. You can make the transition easier by keeping in regular contact, so they don’t feel abandoned, and encouraging them to take part in the social activities on offer, so they make friends more quickly.
Another useful tip is to bring plenty of meaningful personal possessions to your mom or dad’s new room. This will create a comfortable and familiar environment. You can also try and help them to stick to their usual routine, whether it’s doing the crossword in the morning or watching their favourite TV show in the afternoon. Lastly, remember to be kind to yourself – the change might affect you more than you expect, and it’s ok if you need time to adjust too!