Like many Americans, I am watching as my beloved parents grow older, wiser, and more beautiful. They've taught me well: how to take care of myself, prevent illness and age gracefully. Still, aging is inevitable and it's happening all around me.
And unfortunately, like many Americans I am watching my beloved Grandmother grow older, and frailer.
My Grandmother is 94. She lives, incredibly, on her own in the home that she and my Grandfather built in the 1940's. In the last decade I have witnessed her break her hip, lose her sight and her hearing. Her memory is increasingly unreliable, and I worry that she may fall and not be able to reach help. Yet, despite the pleadings of her daughters and granddaughters, she just doesn't want to leave home.
I think that all of us want to stay in the comforts of our own home for as long as possible; but for many people, as they age living alone becomes impossible. As we age, we can often times lose the ability to care for ourselves - which can result in accidents in the home, and even death. Moving to a more supportive environment, like a seniors residence, can ensure that our elders are cared for and watched over, that they are eating regularly, and that they maintain a social lifestyle.
In honor of my Grandmother, I've compiled a guide on how to determine what kind of senior care is needed, how to determine if it's necessary, and what to look for in a new home!
Does Your Beloved Senior Need Assisted Living?
10 Ways To Tell If Your Beloved Elder Needs A New Home
1. Inactive Lifestyle - Your once super-social nana would rather stay home alone.
2. Run-down Home - Your gardening gramps can't keep up with the exterior work.
3. Communication Change - You find you don't hear from your relative as often.
4. Unanswered Mail - Bills and mail remain unopened.
5. Changes in Visits - You aren't visited as often as you were before.
6. Weight Loss - You notice a sudden change in weight loss, or gain.
7. Wounds or Bruising - Unexplained bruises or other injuries show up, signalling difficulty getting around the home.
8. Messy Home - Chores and daily duties are neglected.
9. Damaged Environment - Blackened pots, broken dishes and glasses from accidental occurrences.
10. Concern For Well-being -Ultimately, if you feel any concern at all for your elder, they probably need help!
Moving away from one's home is never easy, and it's not always obvious to someone that they actually can't live alone! It's up to us, the sons and daughters, to look for the signs that our elders need a more supportive environment, like a retirement community or a home.
What Kind Of Support?
Once you have determined if your family member needs a more supportive environment, it's important to know what kind of help is necessary! Each person is unique, and their circumstances will be, too. Here's a list of different types of care:
Home Support Services - Designed for the most independent folk, these services are non-medical in nature and range from meal deliveries, to transportation, from housekeeping to friendly visits.
Home Care Services - These are for those who are still relatively independent, but who require some sort of care or therapy. Provided temporarily or on an on-going basis, they can range from physical therapy to teaching clients how to care for themselves.
Supported Living Community - These are residences that are self-contained apartments, but part of a community that offers meals, housekeeping and community events. Residents can enjoy living within the community and outside of it, while taking advantage of the services provided daily.
Assisted Living - Accommodations that provide varying levels of care, including meals and recreation. Often times nursing services are available, including bathing and dressing.
Long-Term Care - These residences are for individuals with health concerns who need 24-hour supervision.
Alzheimer Care - Specialized for the individual who has memory loss, and who require varying levels of supervision.
Hospice Care - Or Palliative Care, this kind of accommodation aims to reduce the suffering of ailing individuals who have, or are at risk of developing, life-threatening illness.
Once you determine what kind of care is appropriate, you need to know where to find it! A great site that I have used is Eldercare Locater, "a public service of the U.S. Administration on Aging. The Eldercare Locator is your first step for finding local agencies, in every U.S. community, that can help older persons and their families access home and community-based services like transportation, meals, home care, and caregiver support services." (from their website).
How To Choose A Residence
Choosing the right residence is crucial to the well being of your loved one. I have heard and read horrific stories about abuse within senior residences, and I know my Grandmother has, too. This is one reason she is so adamant about staying in her own home!
It's so important to ask the right questions for your beloved elder. Know what to look for in a residence, and how to tell if it's a healthy, healing place for them to be!
Some things to consider about a residence are:
- Proximity to family, hospitals (if the residence doesn't offer 24-hour emergency care), and place of worship
- Proximity to shopping
- Scheduled outings and social events
- Quality of food and safety
- Cleanliness of the residence
So how to determine these things? Start by scheduling a tour of the residence, and ask if you can wander around on your own. Observing what a day might be like: have a meal with the residents, and engage them in conversation. Ask yourself:
- Are the residents happy? Ask them! What are their likes and dislikes about the residence?
- Ask some residents if they have a family member with
whom you could chat, to see what their experiences with the residence have been.
After your scheduled visit, try dropping-in another time. See if the residence is any different than during your scheduled visit.
Checklist For Residences
And take along this checklist for your reference! This checklist is a great way to make sure you remember to ask all the right questions, and that you don't forget anything after your visit. It's a PDF format, downloadable and printable.
A Special Note On Alzheimer's
Many seniors are able to live well, as long as they are cared for properly. Alzheimer's is degenerative and progressive, and can mimic the natural signs of aging.
10 Symptoms Of Alzheimer's
1. Difficulty performing daily tasks - like making a meal.
2. Disorientation - not knowing where one is, or what time or date it is. often times, people with Alzheimer's risk getting lost even on their own street.
3. Memory loss that can affect every day activities - short-term memory loss, like forgetting whether or not one has made an important phone call or run an errand - or even has something cooking on the stove.
4.Problems with words and language - inability to remember words, or putting together sentences.
5. Difficulty with thinking - not being able to balance a checkbook or not being able to recognize numbers.
6. Personality changes - acting out of character, withdrawing, and acting fearful are classic symptoms of Alzheimer's.
7. Poor judgement - misinterpreting the weather and wearing too little or too much clothing.
8. Loss of inspiration - losing initiative to become involved in activities.
9. Misplacing things - forgetting where one put things, or putting the in inappropriate places - like a watch in the fridge.
10. Changes in moods - mood swings.
If you think your elder is suffering from or developing Alzheimer's, make sure you find them proper care! Find out more about Alzheimer's through the Alzheimer's Association HERE.
Watching a loved one age is never easy, especially when they can no longer care for themselves. Finding great senior care that you can trust can offer your elder a happier, healthier rest of their life!
In love, Sage