When deciding how to take care of a loved one as they age, it can be hard to choose the right path. There are so many different options for elderly loved ones—from in-home care to caregiver residences—and it can be difficult to sort through all of the information provided.
Almost everyone offering assisted living or long-term care suggests that they provide “resident-centered” care, even if they actually do not. When looking for assisted living, “resident-centered” care can enrich the life of a loved one. Unfortunately, with misleading information everywhere, it is important to know what resident-centered care looks like, and what type of care is needed. Having this information will allow you to find the best care for an elderly loved one.
What is Assisted-Living?
As family members age, it is important that they receive the best care they can. Most experience memory loss, loss of dexterity, and even simply the lack of motivation to take care of day-to-day tasks, such as cooking, cleaning, or the upkeep of personal hygiene. With many younger family members having to take care of themselves and their families, it can be hard to decide what to do.
In recent years, more and more families are turning to assisted care communities or in-home specialists. These services provide families with assurance that their loved one is being cared for and kept safe. This is a cause for great relief for many families, specifically for those who have loved ones experiencing dementia or Alzheimer’s disease. Having someone there to care for and look after loved ones bring a peace of mind rarely matched by other options.
Signs that a Loved One May Need Assisted-Living
Many families do not know when to provide extra care for their loved ones. It can be hard to know the signs, especially since many issues could be temporary. As they age, loved ones are more susceptible to minor issues, some that could leave them unable to fully care for themselves, despite their best efforts. Be sure to keep track of these issues, as some may not be entirely noticeable at first. Some things to keep an eye out for include:
- Consistent memory loss
- Short-term memory lapses
- Constantly messy/dirty home
- Lack of proper hygiene
- Self-neglect (in terms of eating and drinking)
When a loved one experiences any of these signs of aging, assisted living may be an option. Assisted living does not treat any of these symptoms; rather, it provides a steady residential area where loved ones can live and stay active doing things they would do at home, such as gardening, exercising, or crafts.
However, if any issues become persistent and worrisome to the point of needing medical attention, assisted living is not the most viable option for the loved one. In those cases, it is important to place them in a location that not only caters to their personal needs and preferences, but also to their medical and health-related needs. Although assisted living typically does not provide this type of care. Nursing homes or medical-focused assisted living facilities are always a great option for a loved one in need of specialized medical care.
How is Assisted Living Different from a Nursing Home?
Nursing homes are specifically for aging members of society that require daily, health-centered care. A nursing home is a great option for those who are immobile or incapable of taking care of themselves due to a health issue. In nursing homes, on-call healthcare staff is provided to look after loved ones and keep them as healthy and happy as possible.
This is where nursing homes differ from assisted-living communities. Assisted living provides non-medical assistance to loved ones, giving them the means to live their lives, just in a safer, more age-friendly environment. Assisted living communities usually have daily activities scheduled to keep minds and bodies active and engaged.
How to Choose an Assisted Living Community
When looking into which assisted living community to choose for a loved one, it is important to look for those places that provide resident-centered care. But what is resident-centered care exactly? Some of the features of resident-centered care are:
Caring for the person as a whole: This type of care not only focuses on treating illnesses or conditions (such as memory loss). Resident-centered care looks at individual’s strengths over their limitations, interests, activities that make them happy, and provide a close sense of community.
Having a person “there”: When experiencing the effects of aging, a sense of loneliness is very possible. With that, person-focused care provides loved ones with caretakers who are active listeners. Staff are able to care for residents while also helping them establish relationships with other residents and staff. Close relationships are essential to maintaining a happy, healthy life.
Accommodating preferences: Needs and preferences are two different things. Needs are things that are required for a healthy life; preferences are what is individually required for each person to live a happy life. Accommodating preferences is what caters to individual desires and fulfills the need for control in one’s life. Resident-centered care is all about focusing on the needs and desires of the love one. This includes accommodating preferences, such as when they want to eat, sleep, and bathe, as well as daily decisions, such as what to wear and which activities the individual wants to participate in that day (knitting, book-club, swimming, etc.).
Resident-centered care is all about treating the whole person. That is why this type of care is of the highest quality, providing loved ones with the reassurance and comfort needed to lead a happy life. With the happiness of loved ones at stake, it is important to research and find the best assisted living community that can provide care focused on the person as a person, not simply a resident.
How to Spot Resident-Centered Care
The best way to find out if a community offers resident-centered care if to ask questions and do research. Visiting the location and (with permission) interviewing the residents is a great way to see the level of happiness and comfort for each resident. Do the staff seem attentive, caring, and sympathetic? It can be rather easy to tell right away. If it is not noticeable, it is important to ask the community why they view themselves as resident-centered, as perhaps it is something not visible to visitors.
Observing the day-to-day procedures, talking to current residents, and paying close attention to the daily scheduled activities and programs is a great way to know if a location is resident-centered; if there are no personalized options for activities or programs, it is safe to say that the location is not resident-centered. If none of these options are available, trust the gut-feeling. If a feeling of uneasiness ever occurs, it is best to simply avoid the location. The comfort, happiness, and health of loved ones should be the top priority of all communities–if this is not noticeable, it is time to do more research.
Is All In-home Care Resident-centered?
Although it seems contradictory, in-home care is not always resident-centered. Some caregivers may view each loved one as simply another resident or another patient that they must tend to.
Without the promise of resident-centered care, in-home care can be impersonal, making the loved one feel alienated in their own home. Sometimes, the nurse or caregiver is focused more on finishing tasks and keeping the household afloat than caring for the loved one in an individual way. Although there is no inherently bad side to this, it does take away from the personalized, empathetic care that each person deserves.
If resident-centered care is of high importance to the families searching for care, it is important to avoid the opposite at all costs. To accomplish this, interviewing and laying out what is needed by a loved one immediately, during the first interaction, is a great way to ensure that all needs and preferences are met. Keep in contact with the loved one under the care, making sure to communicate effectively about how things are going and if they are truly happy and comfortable. Sometimes finding the right fit is based on trial-and-error. But once the right caregiver is found, the loved one will flourish in a safe, personalized, comfortable environment.
When considering assisted living, ensuring that the community is resident-centered and focused on the health and happiness of loved ones is of the utmost importance. Those who enjoy assisted living the most are those who have their needs and preferences met with genuine care, respect, and sympathy. This is only accomplished by a community implementing resident-centered care that caters to the needs of each individual.
When an individual’s needs are not met, that is when community living becomes more about filling rooms than filling people’s lives with happiness and healthiness. Doing the research is important for finding the perfect fit for a loved one while in assisted care. The best way to do that is simply to ask questions and read reviews. If no reviews can be found, simply find a professional assisted-living-services representative and ask all the right questions. To keep loved ones happy, resident-centered focus is the best option. Contact Cobbdale Assisted Living for more information.