Each year many of us spend the holidays at family gatherings which are full of joy. Between Christmas and New Years, we will have many great meals, exchange many gifts and be reunited with those around us we so cherish.
Between all the activities we may learn that some of our elderly loved ones may need some long term assisted living. This can be a hard topic and bring up some uncomfortable conversations so let’s learn more what to do if this issue arises.
Preparing for Long-term Assisted Living
We want our holidays to be filled with joy and coming to terms with having your parents or loved ones in assisted living can be a hard pill to swallow. This conversation is often put off for too long. After some time, it becomes known that it is no longer safe for the ones we care about to be living on their own. When this becomes apparent you will want to assess your loved one’s ability to live as an independent. Being the holidays, this may be a good time for your family to have a conversation and a plan of action for your loved ones.
Consider the Signs
Knowing what to look for over the holidays is a great starting point let’s take a look at some of the warning signs.
As most of us age we will get some form of decline in our mental cognition. Most of us will experience some degree of forgetfulness and lapses in memory that could have a negative impact on one’s life. While almost 40% of people over 65 experience some memory loss brain diseases like Alzheimer’s and dementia are different. Look for signs where you loved one has a hard time remembering things like the placement of an item, appointments and important events or names of close ones. You may want to learn more about normal aging vs dementias from the Alzheimer Society of Canada.
Your loved one may have other issues affecting their mental health such as changes in personality, mood swings or even depression, some of which can be associated with different types of dementia. Just because a family member has dementia does not mean they will need to leave their home but when you come together as a family and make a care plan you can make the transition much smoother.
When a person loses the ability to complete their daily self care or their Activities of Daily Living. Basic self care tasks include personal hygiene and grooming such combing and styling hair, bathing and showering, dressing, using the toilet and self-feeding. Over and above your family members ability to complete their activities of daily living you will want to look for signs of rapid weight loss or an empty refrigerator which may indicate something more serious. This may show you that your loved one is experiencing a loss of appetite, is simply forgetting to eat or is injured and may not have the strength to be balanced or get food.
Current Living Situation
You may want to look at the current living situation of your elderly parents. How does it compare to the last visit? Do things seem to be in place or is there some items where they should not belong. Take a close look at all areas of the house. There could be damage to the garage or signs of a grease fire in the kitchen with signs of left-over soot.
If your family member rarely gets traffic violations or in motor vehicle collisions and they become more frequent this should raise a red flag. From vision problems like cataracts to mental decline like dementia there is an array of reasons why there may be impaired driving. Want to be in the know? Take a drive with them.
If you come across final notice envelopes you will know that your loved one is failing to pay their bills. If you have access to their bank account you may see too much or too little money. You may even notice they have a hard time with simple calculations.
Preparing a long-term plan for assisted living
If you are starting to notice any of the signs above it may be time to discuss, as a family, a plan for long term assisted living. Discuss the needs of your loved one and a course of action. We must point out that action may not always lead to immediate long-term assisted living arrangements. There are many things involved.
Step 1. Delegate Jobs
Delegate someone to start researching care assisted living providers. Take the time to go to the location in person and tour the facility. Talk to the management about cost and what is included with that cost. While looking at cost, determine if someone should be the Power of Attorney.
Step 2. Meet with a Lawyer
Consider meeting with a lawyer, this may eliminate some headaches. While meeting with the lawyer discuss estate planning and possible family member roles. It would also be advisable to consider meeting with a geriatric care coordinator who can offer a professional, unbiased opinion.
Step 3. Conversation
Once a plan has been created you will want to sit down with our aging loved ones and have an open dialogue conversation. When conversing be careful on your wording and tone of voice. You will want to make sure you are not forcing this on them. Make it their choice, or at least a mutual choice. You may even want to show them the facilities your family recommends. When it comes to conversation working together on the options should be a mutual agreement.
Choosing the right assisted-living arrangements
At Balcarres Care Home we have multiple care options to choose from including assisted living, respite care and level 3 extended care. If your loved one has minimal needs respite care is a great option, where as more involved needs would require level 3 care.
If you witness any of the warning signs this holiday season come together as a family and create a plan of action. If you have any questions about long-term assisted living be sure to contact us.