Where Passion Meets Reality!

Where Passion Meets Reality!

8.15.2016  Mary Yamin-Garon: Choosing the

Right Type of Senior Living for Your Loved One

Good afternoon. Welcome to Demystifying Alzheimer’s. I’m your hostess Mary Yamin-Garone.

Today’s topic is “Choosing the Right Type of Senior Living for Your Loved One.”

Slowing down physically and mentally are a normal part of the aging process. Some changes, however, may indicate something more serious. As a caregiver, it’s important that you pay close attention to any outward signs of decline in your loved one.

You can start by taking a look at how they manage the activities of daily living (ADL). The following information can be used as a reference.

Basic activities, such as:

  • Feed themselves
  • Use the bathroom appropriately
  • Maintain good personal hygiene, including oral care
  • Dress appropriately for the weather
  • Maintain continence
  • Walk and transfer (from bed to wheelchair or wheelchair to walker)
  • Climb stairs

Complex activities include:

  • Cooking
  • Shopping
  • Communicating effectively
  • Following directions
  • Taking medications correctly
  • Managing money/finances
  • Using the telephone and other communication devices
  • Doing housework and basic home maintenance
  • Handling transportation, whether it be driving or navigating public transportation)
  • Doing laundry

Having trouble with one or more of these activities is a sign of functional decline. While it could be the result of an illness, injury or medication, it also may be due to cognitive deficits. Here are more detailed examples of functional decline. See how many symptoms apply to your family member.

Function                                                                                Symptoms

Misusing medications                                                          Taking the wrong dosage

Mixing medications

Expired medications

Deviating from schedule

Poor hygiene                                                                        Wearing stained/dirty clothing or the same clothes every day

Inappropriate clothing choice or wearing nightclothes during the day

Body odor or other signs that they’re not showering/bathing

No longer combing their hair or brushing their teeth

Weight loss

Dietary changes                                                                   Lack of fresh food in refrigerator

Foul odors coming from the refrigerator/cupboards

Financial difficulties                                                             Unpaid bills

Changes in spending habits

Unusual donations

Problems communicating                                                   Forgets your name/who you are

Repeating questions

Verbal confusion or stammering

Inappropriate comments to family/friends

Difficulty functioning                                                           Forgetting how to use simple items

Getting lost while driving/walking

Spoiled or poorly cooked foods

Mail is accumulating

House is cluttered

Sensory changes                                                                  Loss of vision or diminished hearing that affects their ability to drive, read medication labels, see traffic signs or hear the phone or smoke/fire alarm

Frequent falling                                                                    Unexplained cuts/bruises

Reluctant to leave the house

Hesitant or unsteady gait

Have a Family Meeting

When an elderly parent falls ill, has an accident or is diagnosed with Alzheimer’s or another form of dementia, the family needs to discuss pressing issues and make decisions.

Invite each family member to a meeting to talk about your loved one’s situation. Discuss the pros and cons of relocating them to a senior living community.

Topics to address include:

  • What does your loved one need and want?
  • What is the best senior living option for their situation?
  • How much will their care cost and how will it be paid for?
  • How will decisions be made? By consensus or by a designated family member?

Make sure everyone has an opportunity to voice their opinion. All feelings are appropriate and need to be expressed.

Senior Care Options

Each family’s senior living decision is unique. Determining which type of help your loved one needs is vital when it comes to finding the right community. When evaluating senior living for your family member, there are many options to consider. Each one has its own merits. Before making your decision, evaluate your loved one’s capabilities and needs to determine which facility would be best for them.

Independent Living

Independent living housing comes in many forms ranging from 55+ apartment communities to villa homes on the campus of a retirement village or continuing care community. This senior living option is for those who are able to perform their own basic ADLs and need little or no medical assistance.

This option is designed to help seniors maintain their independence while recognizing that they are aging. The focus for those interested in independent living is often on lifestyle, security and peace of mind. Typically, they are looking for social, educational and recreational opportunities to enrich their lives.

Living in a congregate senior community offers not only a physically safer environment, such as handrails in the bathroom and 24-hour emergency response system but emotional security, too. Accommodations are smaller, easier to maintain and often resemble apartments. This allows active seniors to spend less time on chores and more time pursuing recreational, social and other activities.

Service options available include:

  • Low-maintenance homes with little or no yard work required.
  • Social activities and
  • Meals

Assisted Living

Assisted living is often viewed as the best of both worlds. Residents have as much independence as they want while knowing that personal care and support services are available if they need them. These senior living communities are designed to assist residents with basic ADLs. Some states also allow assisted living to offer medication assistance and/or reminders.

Assisted living communities range from a stand-alone residence to being one level of care in a continuing care retirement community. The physical environment of these facilities is often more appealing to potential residents and their families. They offer a more home-like atmosphere with apartment styles that typically include studio and one bedroom models. Kitchenettes usually feature a small refrigerator and microwave.

These communities help seniors maintain an independent lifestyle. At the same time, they provide a place where residents can enjoy a full social life, lots of brain and body activities and companionship. Depending on the community, residents may have access to a fitness center, swimming pool, beauty salon and post office. Communities also will plan events, activities and trips that residents can participate in that range from happy hour to concerts.

Most assisted living facilities create a service plan for each resident when they move in. This plan details the personalized services the resident requires and are guaranteed by the facility. Plans are updated regularly to assure that your loved one receives the best and most appropriate care as their condition changes.

Service options available include:

  • Minor medical care
  • Transportation
  • Personal care assistance and
  • Light housekeeping and laundry

Skilled nursing/nursing home

Nursing homes, or skilled nursing facilities, are medical facilities dedicated to caring for those with severe or debilitating physical or mental illnesses who are unable to care for themselves. Unlike assisted living communities, nursing homes provide intensive, long-term medical care to seniors with serious health conditions in a fully staffed and monitored environment.

Most nursing homes have medical professionals, such as doctors, nurses, certified nursing assistants and healthcare aides, on staff. They provide residents with quality medical care, including physical or speech therapy, pain management and hospice care. Staff are trained to assess health emergencies and will readily refer residents to a nearby hospital to deal with more complex or acute conditions when necessary.

Many nursing homes have medical equipment traditionally found in hospitals, such as X-ray machines, pharmacies and electronic beds. Some also have special units designated for those suffering from Alzheimer’s or other dementias. In addition, these facilities offer rehabilitation services where a senior can stay before returning home after a medical operation or procedure.

Service options available include:

  • Personal care assistance
  • Social activities
  • 24-hour supervision and
  • Transportation

Memory Care

Depending on their level of impairment, living alone may not be safe for your loved one but they aren’t ready for a nursing home either. Memory care communities let them maintain some level of independence while being safe. These facilities are built solely to care for those with Alzheimer’s. The environment is secure and the hallways are color-coded to help residents navigate.

Residents are engaged in meaningful activities to better maintain their functional abilities. These activities are delivered by staff specifically trained to care for those whose memory is impaired. It also has been reported that memory care facilities improve a senior’s safety and quality of life. This includes reduced medication and its side effects and fewer falls, injuries and hospital visits. Many even improved or could maintain mental functioning.

Service options available include:

  • Daily meals, housekeeping and laundry service, medication management, exercise and physical therapy programs, social programs and activities and 24-hour staffing and personal assistance
  • Specialized care and nursing services that assisted living facilities don’t have and
  • Information and practical tips for the families to help them care for someone suffering from memory loss.

Home Care

Also called “companion care,” home care consists of non-medical services that allow your loved one to receive assistance with ADLs and Instrumental Activities of Daily Living (IADLs). The frequency of home care services provided varies depending on several factors. The primary factor is the level of independence a senior can maintain while ensuring their basic care needs are met. For example, if your family member is still independent in all ADLs, they may only need assistance with things like house cleaning, laundry and transportation to shopping once a week. In other situations, they may need daily supervision of particular activities to ensure their physical safety and well-being.

Service options available include:

  • Short-term basis, such as after a medical crisis has occurred like a stroke or fall. Temporary assistance may be needed while regaining strength and/or
  • Long-term basis so a senior can receive care while their caregiver is working.

That’s all for today. Thanks for listening. I hope you found this information helpful.

Join me next time for more about choosing the right senior living option for your loved one.

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About Lillian Cauldwell

Own and operate an Internet Talk Radio Network for 10 years, 2005 to Present Published Author of Non-Fiction Book, 1996, "Teenagers! A Bewildered Parent's Guide. Published Author of several fiction books, 2006 "Sacred Honor" and 20010 "The Anna Mae Mysteries: The Golden Treasure." Playwright of Theater of the Absurd and Black Comedies. Screenwriter, Black Comedies