08 Feb

Earlier we discussed what steps need to be taken if you or your loved one prefers to stay in their own home. In today's article we will look at a another very common choice for families; the large assisted living.

We will discuss some of the pros and cons of this choice and the steps to take if this is your preferred way to proceed.

2. Large Assisted Living:

In your grandma's day the only choice for families when a loved one needed more help than they could provide was to put someone in a "nursing home". This became the dreaded mantra and many people found themselves promising a loved one that they would never do that. Well, a couple of things have changed since these promises were made so if you've found yourself in that position please read further.

Although nursing homes provide what is called skilled nursing care; this isn't to say that the care you receive from a nurse in another setting isn't' just as "skilled" it is simply a medical phrase that has more to do with Medicare reimbursement than level of care. Although nursing homes are still very often full, much of the care that they provide can be received in an assisted living environment.

Assisted Livings are communities that offer a variety of levels of care, ranging from minimal assistance to full care. For many of them the main things they offer are housekeeping and meals. For some people moving into these buildings that may be all they need at the time.

They also focus heavily on amenities such as exercise rooms, swimming pools and movie theater type settings. These things are attractive mostly to family members, and sometimes are not actually used by the residents themselves that often. Although depending on the focus of the community and the level of independence they may be desired.

If you or your loved one finds that type of programming appealing, this might be just the thing for you. As for providing care; there are usually multi-levels of packages available to chose from at an additional cost. 

Lastly we have all heard the statement that there is "24 hour nursing care". I encourage you to find out exactly what this means. Is there a nurse on-site, or merely available by phone.? Either one is ok, but make certain you understand what that means. Find out what the policy is for when there is a change in condition, and what the acceptable wait time is for staff arriving after you've called for help, alsowhat is the ratio of caregiver to residents?These things will all impact the care that can be delivered to your loved one.

Fall prevention is a very important factor for the safety of your loved one, so be sure to ask about escorting them back and forth if they are unsteady on their feet. Too many times a senior who is trying to be independent ends up over extending themselves and falling.  A fall when you are older can have very unfortunate consequences.

Ask lots of questions!

What is included?

What happens if I need more care?

How quickly can you respond if I have a problem?

Is the staff readily available around the clock?

Talk to residents that are already living there; this is a good way to find out what things are really like, and lastly I always tell people; drop in uninvited at a mealtime.

One more thing to consider is whether your loved one is compatible with congregate living. Some people love it, others not so much. What we find is that ladies and couples seem to do very well. Single men often have more difficulty making the adjustment.

You might ask why that is? Think about the differences in the way men and women a generation ago spent their day. Ladies generally stayed at home and watched their children; cooked, cleaned and found time to visit with other ladies in the neighborhood. Coffee klatches and book clubs were popular. They socialized after their work was done with others on a regular basis.

Men on the other hand went to work every day, and came home to their families each night. With the exception of an occasional hunting or fishing trip; golf or maybe bowling; they mostly did not do the types of socializing that women did. Consequently the types of activities that occur in congregate living settings often do not appeal to men. I have heard way too many men say; "I'm not playing bingo, or kicking a ball around" 

As a result men will instead chose not to participate the way everyone would like them to, and instead just take their meals in the dining room, and spend the rest of their time in their rooms. The result is that they often are just as isolated as when they were at home alone.

We have now covered two of the three options that are available to chose from. Please feel free to leave me any comments in the space below.


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