I was recently asked to participate on an expert panel and share my experiences working with Care Management clients as they begin to explore the option of moving to Assisted Living. Below are a few of the questions that I was asked and my responses.
Q: When should you think about a move to Assisted Living?
A: First, every family is going to have a different journey with their loved one. For some families, the plan has always been for their loved one to age in place. For others, the idea to move to Assisted Living is embraced as an expected life transition. It is a very personal decision and there is no one right time to begin to explore this option. For some of my clients, the move to Assisted Living feels like a logical next step in the aging process. For others, the move is necessitated by medical necessity or a life event warranting a change in living situation.
As a Care Manager, I always encourage my clients to begin to look at Assisted Living options when they don’t necessarily need or want them. This is so they can explore the options available to them and gather information before an emergent need should arise. When a decision to move is made in a time of crisis, it is often made quickly, and with emotion rather than logical thinking.
Q: When should you move to Assisted Living?
A: There is no one-size-fits-all answer to this questions. Some of my clients want to move to Assisted Living, and this transition occurs when they feel the time is right. For others, a move to Assisted Living should be considered when other options no longer make sense – physically, emotionally, financially, logistically, etc.
Primary reasons to consider a move include: ongoing safety issues, the need for assistance with activities of daily living, increasing need for assistance with mobility and ambulation, falls in the home, concerns with managing and taking medication, the need for additional support outside the family/friends/community, isolation at home, and an overwhelmed primary caregiver.
Q: Are all Assisted Living facilities the same?
A: No! We are very fortunate that there are many Assisted Living options available in this area. It is important to consider present and future needs when selecting a facility. I highly recommend consulting with a Care Manager who can help to save time and energy by helping you to narrow down the facilities that would meet the wants, needs and budget of your loved one.
Q: What support is available to me and/or my family as we go through this journey?
A: First, look around you. Family, friends, spiritual communities, neighbors can all be sources of support. Lean on those people that truly offer support to you that comes without judgement or strings attached. Second, recognize when it is time to get support from someone who knows this process. There are professional Care Managers with education, training and experience who do this every day with their clients. Your situation is unique, but the process and available resources are not.
Q: What is the best advice you can give me as I think about the transition to Assisted Living.
A: Become informed as to what options are available and decide what may be ideal, desired, and acceptable to you should you need or want to move in the future. There is no harm in exploring what is out there, and by looking around you may find that there are some common misconceptions about Assisted Living. There are some great options out there!