It is never too early to discuss assisted living – or alternative living arrangements – with our elderly parents. As with most things in life, communication and caring are key; keep in mind the range of emotions that they may experience on this subject. The decision will be much easier and less painful for all if it is discussed before a decision needs to be made or action needs to be taken.
When is Action Needed?
Living on their own as long as possible is the best alternative for a sense of control over their lives. There are situations however that prompt action:
- a spouse dies
- one becomes physically incapacitated
- one increasingly becomes less mentally fit
There are several types of resources upon whom the elderly can call on in order to prolong their living at home…
- family members – preferably more than one!
- neighbors (friends in close proximity who have the inclination and schedule availability)
- elder care (state and local government programs designed to aid the elderly)
Note that the elderly will not call upon the people who can be their resources- the resources, whether it is their adult children or concerned friends or family members, must initiate the discussion and volunteer the assistance. Insistence may be necessary yet we must always be sensitive to people’s feelings and desires.
‘Assisted Living’ typically refers to living in a facility where one’s needs are provided by a caring staff; however, it can also have less drastic (and/or costly) instances:
- moving in with a family member
- a family member moving in with the parent
- a resource network that can provide for the elderly while continuing to live alone
As our seniors age, there are basic activities that become increasing difficult for them and are indicators of a need for assisted living:
- home maintenance
- shopping, errands
- house cleaning
The earlier activities listed are easier to manage through alternative resources. When cooking (and certainly bathing) becomes difficult for the elderly to manage, it is time to take action!