The Complete Guide to Everything You Need to Know About Assisted Living for Your Parents
As a caregiver, you may feel like you have many questions about what the future holds for your aging parent. If you’ve begun to wonder how much longer you can safely support your loved one while they’re living independently, options like assisted living are probably on your radar.
A move to assisted living can feel like a big and overwhelming change. In many ways, it will create a significantly different lifestyle for you and your loved one, but different isn’t always a bad thing. In fact, once they know more about assisted living and the ways it can positively affect an older adult’s quality of life, many families wish they’d made the move sooner.
This guide will help you understand the basics of what assisted living is and how it allows seniors to age gracefully, including — in many cases — remaining independent even longer than they would living at home alone. Be sure to follow the links within each section for additional tips and advice from our caring and experienced team at The Ridge.
An Introduction to Assisted Living
As an adult providing care for a parent, you may find yourself pushing and giving more and more to honor your loved one’s wishes — even when our own children, personal lives and careers are suffering. Yet sometimes, “being there” for a loved one means finding the best solution for your parent’s needs and giving them a better support system than you can provide on your own.
What many people don’t realize is assisted living can actually help an older adult retain or even regain their independence. A little support here and there, and a team on watch to take proactive corrective action, can be powerful tools for creating a better quality of life for a senior whose independence is teetering at home. The very goal of assisted living is to preserve independence.
Part of the challenge in advocating for assisted living may be the negative reputation surrounding nursing homes. In fact, assisted living is quite different from a nursing home (which, by the way, is more accurately known as skilled nursing). Skilled nursing residents need full-time medical care or monitoring, as well as help with many, if not all, activities of daily living. Skilled nursing is typically more of a medical setting, whereas assisted living offers a more residential feel.
Considering the Cost of Assisted Living
If your parent needs more support that you can provide yourself, you may start by considering home health or moving them into your home. Sometimes, those are viable options, but often, assisted living offers the most affordable, practical solution. Moving to assisted living eliminates the expense of owning and maintaining a home, and home-based care can quickly erode retirement savings.
In addition to the continuous care, lifestyle benefits and peace of mind they give to family members, assisted living communities can ultimately save thousands of dollars compared to hiring help at home.
Talking with a Parent About Assisted Living
Broaching the subject of assisted living can be daunting if your parent is resistant — or if you’re not sure how they’ll respond. Talking with your parent requires a gentle approach, and the more information you have, the better prepared you’ll be to answer questions and alleviate concerns.
You should be prepared to debunk myths about assisted living, such as misperceptions about privacy and the lifestyle. You might also need to have a frank conversation about your parent’s current living conditions and any concerning behavior or incidents that suggest they’re struggling.
Getting Support from Other Family Members
In some cases, it’s not your parent who is particularly reluctant about a move to assisted living, but rather a family member, such as a sibling. Conflict can arise among family members when a sibling or other relative wants a bigger voice in decision-making, when there are differing views about the level of care, or when financial complications arise.
Open, honest communication and focusing on your loved one’s best interests can help you reach common ground. In addition, many assisted living communities offer resources like mobile apps that help family members stay connected and share in caregiving responsibilities.
Choosing an Assisted Living Community
One of the most important tips for choosing the right assisted living community is starting early, so you’re not under pressure to make a decision in the midst of an emergent situation. If you’re thinking about assisted living, the time to start exploring your options is now.
Ideally, you’ll eventually want to tour communities in person to get a feel for the culture and whether your loved one could feel at home, but first you can do some research online and by phone. Make a list of questions to help narrow your choices. Ask about the community’s experience and programs that address specific conditions, the residential options, security measures, activities, amenities, services (both those included and any available at a surcharge) and other details that may influence your loved one’s happiness, like access to a fitness club or high-end dining options.
What You Can Do to Create a Smooth Transition
Once a decision has been made and a community selected, you can give yourself a pat on the back for persevering this far. However, there’s still plenty to come as you work toward getting your parent settled in their new home. You’ll be navigating plenty of emotions (theirs and your own), as well as all the logistics of selling the family home, downsizing belongings, and moving. You can also help your loved one make plans to get involved with social activities at the new community, and your frequent visits will help provide reassurance that no one is leaving your parent behind.
How Your Loved One’s Lifestyle Will Change
You may find greater success helping your loved one settle into their new life if you help them anticipate the lifestyle changes that come with assisted living. For the most part, there may not be as many changes as your parent expects. They’ll still be free to come and go as they please, enjoy privacy in their own apartment and set their own daily routine. They’ll have access to special programming and the chance to explore new hobbies, and they’ll have plenty of time for those enjoyable activities because they won’t have to worry about housekeeping chores or home maintenance.
How Your Caregiving Role May Change
If you’ve spent months or years caring for a parent, you may expect to feel an enormous weight lifted once your loved one is safely settled into a comfortable assisted living community. Don’t be surprised if that relief is tempered by some guilt and even a bit of angst as you work to redefine yourself without that responsibility.
Also remember that you still have an important role in your parent’s life, even if someone else has day-to-day duties, or if you’re serving as a caregiver while living miles away. You’ll still be advocating for your parent, checking in to ensure things are going smoothly, and looking for ways to brighten their days with regular visits and calls.
Respectful Assisted Living that Empowers and Engages
Upscale finishes, exceptional amenities, and a level of support that empowers while honoring the unique needs of each resident make assisted living at The Ridge a comfort and a pleasure. Contact us to learn more about our luxury assisted living communities in Denver, Salt Lake City and Holladay, Utah.