To Your Loved One
It can be incredibly difficult and often awkward to approach your elderly relative and ask direct questions pertaining to how they are coping living in their home without any additional professional care or help. It is advisable to only broach the subject once you have noticed significant changes or a heightened frequency in negative behaviors, or a decline in physical or mental capabilities.
However, if you have noticed a decline, it is important to act quickly and naturally in the best interests of your loved one. It is imperative that you approach the subject tactfully and at their own pace rather than yours. Ensure you have plenty of time before you start and that you do not linger on any awkwardness or embarrassment.
Remember that in some cases, depending on how close you are to your relative, they may downplay any symptoms or accidents so as not to worry or concern you. Conversely, they may exaggerate. Therefore, a combination of observation and questions are necessary for you to have as many of the facts available to you upon which you can base your decision.
Are they looking after themselves? Is the post piling up at the front door, are the bins overflowing because they have not been left out to be emptied, or is the house in general less clean and tidy than usual? Ask them about their eating habits. Are they getting enough fruit and vegetables every day, are they drinking enough water and are they eating regular meals? Are they able to stay totally on top of personal hygiene? Are their clothes clean and smart and do their teeth look clean?
To Assisted Living Facilities
It may be obvious to many, but is worth repeating: before you make a decision you must visit the facility you are interested in and make sure you conduct a full tour. Additionally, it would be pertinent to arm yourself with a comprehensive list of questions of which to ask the staff once you are there. Assisted living facilities’ strongest attributes vary from place to place and it is crucial that you select the right housing complex that provides the exact specific care requirements for your loved one’s personal needs.
With regard to staff, you should check whether there is an in-house physician, if staff members are on site 24/7 and what specific training the care staff at that particular assisted housing facility have. Be sure to select the right kind facility, such as Belmont Village Encino, that suits your loved one’s specific tone, vibe and interests.
A distasteful but important question to ask if additional services, medication and activities require an additional cost or not. Ideally, you should choose a place that no matter what your relative chooses to participate in, there will be no added fees. Essentially, it is crucial to develop a thorough understanding of the facility as a whole’s pricing structure. Ideally and most conveniently it’ll be an all-inclusive pricing model.
Once you fully understand what you require and more importantly what your loved one requires from their new housing then and only then, are you ready to put pen to paper.
To the Doctor
If you have started to notice a change in your loved one’s behavior, it is a good idea to arrange to accompany them to their next appointment with their doctor.
Ideally with their consent, taking along a list of questions and/or concerns so you can quickly and succinctly address any worries or issues. By having your questions prepared before the appointment, you can take full advantage of the doctor’s knowledge and create a plan to move forward together. Another advantage of accompanying your relative is that perhaps if they were alone they may be too afraid to enquire further into what the doctor has told them and any diagnoses they’ve been given, whereas you are in a stronger position to ask for a more detailed explanation.
Questions to ask your relative’s doctor may include: What is the full diagnosis? What exactly does the prescribed medication do and are there any side effects? Are any follow-up tests necessary and how should you proceed moving forward? Perhaps the most important question of all pertains to the professional view of your loved one’s general state of mind.
Once you are fully armed with all information possible, you are more likely to be successful in correcting any problems quickly and you could even begin to put in preventative measures to maintain your loved one’s freedom and vitality for as long as possible.
Ease the Transition
Moving to an assisted living facility after a lifetime of independent living, is perhaps one of the biggest and traumatic changes a person can make, especially in their senior years. As a result, you are morally bound to ensure this transition is as positive and stress-free as possible.
When the time comes to pack, first check if the facility offers packing services. Prioritize the most important and sentimental items first; not the items you yourself deem to be the most crucial. Most importantly, don’t try and overload; regardless of the extent of their mental or physical decline, this is a traumatic transition and you should afford it the respect and time it truly deserves.
Once your loved one has moved into their new housing, list all household utilities and bill payments that need to be redirected, put on hold or indeed canceled. Contact the postal service to ensure all your loved one’s mail arrives at their new address and ensure this address is handed to any card companies, magazine or newspaper subscriptions and banks.
Finally, and absolutely most importantly, even if you and your relative are the most prepared one could ever expect to be, this transition is still a traumatic, or at the very least somewhat intimidating, one and you must allow your loved one as much time as they need to emotionally adapt to this new phase in their life.