Holidays bring families together, giving them an opportunity to share time baking, making, eating, drinking, reminiscing, laughing, and taking part in those wonderful traditions each family has. For relatives who live far away, the holidays are the best opportunity to really check in on the health and well-being of older family members. In many cases, it is an eye-opener when people truly see how their elderly parents are really doing day-to-day. At The Saybrook at Haddam, we receive an increase in requests for information during November, December and January from families who realize they need to address their parents’ changing care needs.
One of the first questions people ask us is, “How do we know when it is time for assisted living?” Although there is no “one-size-fits-all” answer since each family and individual is unique, there are general ways your parent will indicate things aren’t going well. We thought Care.com had a good check list for families to watch for:
- Is your parent sitting in the same place all day and seeming to be less mobile? When they move do they wince in pain?
- Have they lost or gained a noticeable amount of weight?
- Is there a stack of unpaid bills lying around the home or are they regularly buying or overspending on things they don’t need?
- Do you notice frequent confusion or memory loss when they are talking – including forgetting names of family members or common household items?
- Do you notice frequent changes in mood and personality?
- Is there spoiled food in the fridge?
- Are there any new dents in their car?
One or two of these signs may not be cause for immediate action, but they definitely tell you it’s time to put a care plan in place. After the holidays, you can talk with siblings or others who may be involved in decision making, and discuss options. This is the time when some families begin calling retirement, assisted living and memory care communities to check on services, arrange for tours, and determine which would be a good fit for loved ones.
Having the “time for assisted living” conversation with an elderly parent or relative is likely one of the hardest things an adult child will ever do. Be sure to work closely with your preferred retirement community for advice on walking through this step in a kind, caring and respectful manner. Many communities will invite you to enjoy lunch or dinner, to attend a concert or other event, or even to try a short-term or respite stay. These simple steps take much of the fear and anxiety out of the decision-making and eases the transition from independent living in a home, condo or apartment, to retirement living in an assisted living or memory care environment.
Ideally, adult children will begin having these conversations while parents are able to make their own decisions. The more time and information everyone has, the more confident everyone will feel when the time comes to make the move. They will feel most comfortable having you walk by their side through the selection and move-in process. In this way, you can turn a very worrisome time of life into a wonderful and positive change.
Additionally, as difficult as assisted living planning may be, we can tell you that, in our experience, once residents are settled in to life at The Saybrook at Haddam, they often wonder why they waited so long!
For a private tour of The Saybrook at Haddam or its Safe Harbor memory care neighborhood, please contact David Downey at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 860-345-3779.