As your mother ages, there may come a time when you have to make the tough decision about whether or not she needs a higher level of care than you can provide. You may consider assisted living for mom. It should always be highlighted that this never means that you are “giving up” or do not care. In fact, looking for the best living option means you love your mother very much!
Assisted Living for Mom
Assisted living for your parent is an option that can meet their needs in a variety of ways. Understanding what assisted living is, and if it is a good fit for Mom, is the first step in making the important decision.
When Extra Care is Required
There are many circumstances that would demonstrate your loved one may be a good candidate for assisted living. The following are some areas in your parent’s life that you should observe, to help determine whether they may need a higher level of care.
The most common reason for moving a loved one to an assisted living facility is their overall physical abilities. Many people experience limitations and/or disabilities due to a chronic illness or disease.
Their condition may limit them from performing what is known as “activities of daily living” (ADLs). The following is a list of common ADLs to observe in your mom or dad when considering assisted living:
- Personal hygiene
- Medication management
- Eating and meal prep
- Social activities
If you notice your parent having difficulty performing their activities of daily living, it may be time to start discussing the option of assisted living.
In many cases, assisted living is a great option for a loved one with mental health concerns. Conditions like Alzheimer’s and dementia may make it difficult for a person to perform their daily routine. This includes critical activities like medication management and finances.
When seniors mismanage their medication, a potentially serious issue can arise. Your loved one may also develop a need for an IV (a much more difficult administration of medication). In addition, if your parent is unable to successfully manage their financial affairs, assisted living may be an ideal solution.
Your loved one may be showing signs of depression, due to isolation. If your mom or dad was once a social individual, and now they are withdrawn, assisted living for Mom can be a wonderful solution for them to engage with others.
One of the largest misconceptions about assisted living for Mom is that they are sullen, hospital-like settings. In fact, it is quite the opposite. Assisted living can have a variety of social activities, that can enrich a resident’s life. This can include everything from painting classes, to wellness programs, and musical outlets.
Activities for Daily Living
It is important to understand that assisted living is designed for a loved one that needs assistance with their activities of daily living, but does not require 24-hour nursing or care. Assisted living for Mom does not provide acute medical support. The environment of assisted living for Mom is geared more towards establishing a community experience, that makes an individual feel right at home.
In addition to offering support with ADLs, an assisted living facility can help your mom or dad with their instrumental activities of daily living (IADLs). Although still considered activities of daily living, the instrumentals are tasks that will affect a loved one’s overall well-being, but are not related to their personal care. Examples of this include housekeeping, laundry, and social activities.
Assisted Living is Not a Nursing Home
This is the number one myth about assisted living for Mom. They are not a nursing home, nor do they provide that level of care. Assisted living communities will provide your mom or dad support with their activities of daily living, whereas nursing homes are designed for 24-hour support and/or medical supervision for an individual.
In comparison, nursing homes do not provide the same level of support as a hospital. It is important to assess your parent’s condition with their doctor, to understand the level of care they may need. If you are considering an assisted living facility, confirm what support services they offer and what they can provide for your loved one.
Caring for an Aging Parent
When adult children have to care for an aging parent, the change in roles can create an incredible amount of stress. The emotional conflict a person often feels when they are considering an additional option of care for their parent, should not be overlooked.
For adult children that have become caregivers, enrolling a loved one in assisted living can be an incredibly difficult choice. There can be many psychological costs to being a parent’s caregiver, and making important caregiving decisions. Disruptions to normal sleeping and eating patterns can take an emotional and physical toll.
If you don’t take care of yourself, you will not be able to provide for your parent, and make critical decisions. Before deciding on an assisted living option, make sure you are well rested and are managing stress. The following are a few ways to handle the stress of this type of decision:
- Connect with friends: Often, just like their parent, an adult child caregiver may find themselves in isolation. This type of retraction from society can greatly increase stress. It’s important to get out and speak with friends and family, to keep negative emotions at bay.
- Take a Break: Every once in awhile you need to step away. Ask another family member or a trusted friend to stay with your parent. Your mom or dad might also enjoy the visit, and you can get some space to relax and think.
- Put Your Physical Needs First: It is imperative that you get the proper amounts of sleep, and that you eat regularly. Find time to exercise, even if it’s for a brief walk. Relax and don’t forget to breathe. If you are physically ill, you cannot care for anyone else, nor can you make important decisions for them.
Caregiver guilt and grief can be common, but how you deal with it, will provide the highest level of care for your loved one. When it is time to make the decision about moving your parent to a higher level of care, having a sound body and mind is the best thing you can do for them.
A Safe and Supportive Answer
Assisted living is not “sticking someone in a place,” it is allowing your loved one to join a safe and supportive community. Residents in assisted living enjoy enriched, and mostly independent lives. Although adjusting to a different environment from their home is difficult at first for a parent, many adult children caregivers find it is the best decision they have ever made for their loved one.
Ultimately, an assisted living community can provide support and safety for your parent, that a private residence cannot. The following are a few benefits to assisted living communities, and why your parent may love living in one:
- Safety: Assisted living facilities are designed for safety. Doors are often monitored, and there is always staff present to lend a helping hand. Unlike a private residence, your parent won’t be susceptible to break-ins or burglaries. Assisted living communities are alarmed at all times.
- Transportation: Most assisted living communities provide group transportation for activities like shopping, or a trip to the salon. Unlike her private home, where your mom may never get out, in an assisted living community, she can get her hair done with the girls every Monday.
- Socialization: Perhaps one of the greatest benefits of an assisted living community, is the opportunity for your parent to socialize. Assisted living communities provide enriched schedules of daily activities that can involve everything from poetry readings to pottery classes.
Often the reason why your mom or dad will say they’d hate living in these types of communities, are the reasons why they end up loving it.
Making the choice to move your parents out of their home to anywhere else is an important and emotional decision. The first step in the process, is assessing their physical well being, their behavior, and their emotional health. If they are having difficulty performing activities of daily living, this may mark the beginning of the decision process for you.
Assisted living is not a nursing home and it is not a hospital. In fact, many facilities will make you feel as if you have stepped into someone’s home. Activity rooms with lively pianos, a chatty lunch between friends, and a resident collecting their mail, are all things you may find in an assisted living community. It’s a place for your parent to feel at home, while receiving a level of care that let’s you relax and focus on what you do best: loving your loved one.