For a family, making the decision to move a loved one into an assisted living facility can be full of ups and downs… for everyone. Let’s discuss the subject in detail so you can have more ups than the latter. There are many aspects you must examine, and ensure that you don’t make any of these common assisted living mistakes:
1. Rushing the decision
It is understandable that your family can be quite stressed and worried about the need to get your elderly loved ones into an assisted living home. You may not have the time and energy reserves to manage the situation on your own. But remember not to make a rushed decision. Thoroughly research your available options in terms of proximity, aesthetics, activities, dietary choices, quality of care facilities provided and the resident to caregiver ratio. Keep in mind that should you or your parent be unhappy with the facility, there will be other challenges and difficulties for you to deal with. The decision you make now will have far reaching positive effects, so just breathe… remember thousands of families are right where you are right now. Take your time so you can make the right choices.
2. Getting carried away by aesthetics
Pleasant surroundings are important; we all feel a sense of importance when in a perfectly decorated and updated home. But decor shouldn’t be the sole deciding criterion. A new, fancy place with landscaped gardens and lovely furniture may feel emotionally attractive. However, an older but well looked after home may indicate personal attention, greater experience of caring for the elderly, and seasoned and dedicated staff. A house that is modified for senior living, with ramps, surgical beds, elder-friendly bathrooms, is more important than the most on trend decor. You will want a place that is clean and efficient. Great decor is an added benefit but not a dealmaker.
3. Making proximity the only criterion
It’s an emotional time and you will inevitably think to yourself, “how far is the commute from my driveway to theirs?” While being close by is important, there are other factors that are far more important. And there are more ways to look at a commute. So don’t make the mistake of making a hasty decision based only on the proximity of the house to where you live in Dallas. Also take into account the distance of the home from your place of work, your children’s school or sports activities. Is there a favorite ice-cream shop your kids love on the way that you can always go to? This will tie the visits to grandma with a simple pleasure in life. Can you move a weekend activity, like hiking or minigolf for the family, to one closer to your mom’s new home? When you think about it, this “commute thing” is also an opportunity for you to begin new traditions with your family. So, while you must pay attention to driveability, it’s more flexible than you think.
4. Not doing your due diligence
Check out places online. Shortlist the best ones and examine them further. Do a background check of the people who run the place. Here are some questions to ask: How long have they been in the business? What are their credentials? How many people do they have on their payroll? Who are the carers employed there? Are they trained and certified? Do they have nursing experience? Do they have a few people to do some of the inevitable heavy lifting? Good reviews online? Menu options mom or dad like? See what people are saying about the facility on social media and on websites such as Yelp. It may be reassuring to know that out of the 1.5 million full-time nursing and care giving employees in the country, over 21% are employed in assisted living facilities. If possible, also speak to some of the residents privately or the people who have their family members in care. Ask them about their views and experiences. Try to physically visit as many assisted living places as possible. Check the level of upkeep and whether the residents seem to be generally happy and well looked after.
5. Not making a future-friendly decision
Your dad may enjoy playing tennis now, but as he gets older, he may not be able to play the game he enjoys. You mom may enjoy gardening today, but as she becomes more immobile with her advancing years, this may become irrelevant to her. Swanky homes with sophisticated recreational facilities may seem attractive now but are they practical for the future? For some they are, for others this is not relevant. Choose the right one for you. Does it make more sense to choose a place that is small and intimate and personalized vis-à-vis something that appears to be more corporatized? Are your parents social, playful, or would they love a big quiet reading room? Just remember to make a home choice that will take care of your loved ones not just now but in years to come as well.
6. Not paying attention to the details
Read the fine print. If there are things you don’t understand, run those terms by a lawyer. What is included and what is excluded in the amount that you pay – medications, food, toiletries, laundry, and other consumables? Is there a year on year increase and do you need to renew a contract every year? What is the protocol in case of a medical emergency? What happens as the elderly person becomes progressively more dependent and infirm or if they deteriorate mentally? Is the facility equipped to handle this?
7. Not involving mom and dad
Remember it isn’t you who will be shifting to a new home and having to adjust to a new life with new people. So don’t take a unilateral decision without giving due consideration to the concerns and preferences that you parent or other elderly relative may have. Your parent’s wishes are very important to consider, so involve them in the decision making process. Take them on visits after you have done your initial inspection. Introduce them to residents you’ve already spoken to and thought they might befriend. Remember when your mom or dad took you to college orientation? Remember how out of your element you were and just walking the campus was exciting and scary all at once. It’s your turn now, to walk them through the decision step by step, hand in hand.
8. Leaving it until it’s too late
This is a decision that you need to make so don’t procrastinate. You may not like the idea of having a loved one in care but you have to be realistic. If your loved ones are becoming more immobile while living in a remote location, far from medical facilities in a home ill-equipped for elder living, it makes sense for them to move somewhere they would be safer and well supervised. Take the decision before there is a fall or a tragic incident that could have been avoided. While it is important not to rush the decision, it is also important not to leave it until it’s too late! Call our trusted staff to schedule a visit at a time convenient to you and your parents.