Assisted living communities provide essential care and a sense of calm and peace of mind for aging your parents. Identifying the suitable facility “fit” for your loved one is a journey requiring matching your parents’ needs, budget, and lifestyle with desirable locations. Research and preparation yield the best results when all parties participate by asking questions and engaging in open and honest conversations about expectations.
When your elderly parents need more help than an in-home caregiver can provide, A Place for Mom recommends taking these six steps to learn about assisted living before committing to relocate your parents. If you are unsure if your parents need help, check for any of these eighteen signs that indicate it is time to intervene for their benefit and safety.
1. Have a conversation with your family.
Where applicable, include all siblings in the first discussion no matter how far away they may live. If you are the driving force behind calling the meeting, be clear about your capacity to participate and provide care.
If you are already your parent’s caregiver, be honest about how challenging the job is and remind them you cannot perform the duties indefinitely without support. Work at the outset to settle any disagreements. Securing family members’ support is key to providing a smooth transition and reduce your workload. Your siblings may surprise you with input or solutions you may not have imagined.
If your parents are unwilling to listen to your proposed shift in their care, find a quiet moment when you can relay your feelings, observations, and concerns. Though your parents may be in denial, you must listen to them and document their apprehensions as well as their preferences. If they remain unmoved, perhaps employ the services of a professional mediator who can provide all involved a voice in a safe and constructive environment.
2. Understand what assisted living can do to help.
Big life changes can bring about significant stress, particularly with the elderly, who tend to be resistant to change. You can evaluate your parents’ needs with an assessment of their activities of daily living (ADLs). Recognize that assisted living encompasses far more than many people realize, although it is not as involved as memory care or nursing homes. Please do some research to understand what assisted living offers and match it to your parents’ requirements. And while healthy skepticism is reasonable, don’t forget to consider the potential benefits assisted living offers. Finally, speak to a local senior living advisor who has expertise in senior care. A Place for Mom offers free advisor services providing personalized advice and recommendations.
3. Make a plan to cover costs for your parents’ care.
Cost may be the most significant determining factor when looking for senior living options. Assess what your family can afford monthly and seek out assisted living communities that match your budget. If you are fortunate, your parents may have savings or long-term care insurance that will help defray the costs. Many families must explore other avenues.
Speak candidly to your parents about their finances. The most successful transition plans are born from open, honest dialogue about the critical factors in their move. Assisted senior living can be costly, so bring everything into the open to reduce stress and avoid surprises. Help your parents to understand the prices and costs of assisted living communities. Understand options for care payment, whether private funding or health care insurance, Medicare, or VA benefits.
4. Virtual tour or pay a visit to a senior living community.
Nothing can replace a trip through an assisted living community. It is better than brochures, photos, reviews, and floor plans. Tour a minimum of three communities that make your short-list. Try to schedule time for your parents to tour as well. Mealtimes can be an excellent time to tour as you can gauge residents’ satisfaction and interaction and the onsite staff. Print out this Community Touring Notes checklist for easy comparison.
5. Consult several and varied sources to determine the best assisted living community.
Talk to as many people as you know to learn from their experiences. Relying on a narrow range of information can lead to bad outcomes. Read senior living community reviews. Learn about your parents’ state regulatory environment, background check requirements, and appropriate agency licensing. Please take advantage of federal programs and speak to the long-term care ombudsman. Their job is to resolve issues related to safety, health, and residents’ rights in senior living communities. Set up a meeting with an elder law attorney as new resident contracts in assisted living communities can be confusing. Understanding the scope of an assisted living community contract is crucial to identifying what is provided and avoid unforeseen or hidden costs. An elder law attorney is best for this contract review as they will typically aspire to higher levels of professional conduct as they serve a vulnerable population.
6. Prepare your parents for the transition to senior living.
Once discussions with your parents are underway, do not delay the move. The more time your parents have to mull things over, the more uneasy they can become about the unknown. Become action-oriented and help them to downsize by consolidating their possessions. Plan and coordinate the move carefully to minimize stress levels for all involved. Senior move managers know what to expect and can help your move run smoothly. Be sure to gather and manage your parents’ legal, medical, financial, and other essential documents to ensure they are not misplaced or lost during the move.
Being compassionate to your parents is vital during this life transition. Involving all family members in a constructive dialogue to create a positive approach to the move is critical. Some parents may make a move with relative ease, while other parents may present more challenges. For the best possible experience, follow these six steps to help your parents move to an assisted living community.
If you or your parents would like to discuss options for paying for long-term care, we would be happy to help. We help families plan for the possibility of high long-term care costs and to understand payment options available, like Medicaid or programs offered by the Veterans Administration. It’s important to understand these options to avoid running out of money while paying for long-term care. We can also help by reviewing facility contracts when admitting a loved one to assisted living or a nursing home. Please contact our New Jersey office or call us at (201) 464-2040.