Taking Care of Aging Parents – The Next Step
There is a lot involved with the decision to move a parent or family member to a continuing care community. It’s
not as simple as just assuming that your loved one can’t take care of themselves, and needs daily assistance for basic things like hygiene, diet, and even their medicine. Considerations such as whether or not your parent or loved one’s condition is better suited to assisted living, independent living, skilled nursing, and memory care needs to be carefully weighed. To help with what many consider one of the most difficult decisions a child can make, we’ve put together this resource to help guide you to make the best possible choice for your parent or loved one. We’ve designed this guide to be comprehensive and to answer many of the questions that you may have at all stages of the process. We also recommend downloading our free Seniors Living Guide to learn more about what separates the Applewood Senior Living Community from other Continuing Care Retirement Communities.
Preparing for the Next Step
Continuing Care retirement communities (CCRCs) are retirement communities that offer a wide range of care options for residents, depending on the level of need. Residents have options for independent living, assisted living, and nursing home care. At Applewood, residents have access to around-the-clock care by our skilled nursing team of healthcare professionals.
Start the process by first asking yourself these questions.
Are your parents…
- Beginning to have trouble with their daily tasks?
- Beginning to have difficulty with movement, balance, and general mobility?
- Having trouble or experiencing uncertainty or confusion tasks that should be familiar?
There are many more indicators, but if your family member can identify with either of these three issues, then it may be time to consider that a continuing care retirement community may be right for them. In other cases, things may not be as black and white as a parent experiencing movement or memory problems, but if you are concerned about whether or not your parents have the physical ability to take care of themselves then it may be time to consider a continuing care retirement community. This is especially true if your mother or father lives in a remote area, and may have problems not being able to receive immediate assistance in the event of an emergency.
- Spoiled food that should be thrown away
- History of missing appointments
- Difficulty getting up from a seated position
- Difficulty walking, with balance, and mobility
- Confusion or uncertainty with once-familiar tasks
- General forgetfulness
- Poor hygiene or strong body odors
- Strong smell of urine in home
- Noticeable decline in personal care and grooming habits
- Dirty, cluttered house
- Increasingly unopened mail
- Late payments or bounced checks
- Poor diet or weight loss
- Loss of interest in hobbies or usual activities
- Extreme mood swings or changes in mood
- Forgetfulness of medications
- Taking incorrect doses of medications
- Unexplained bruises or injuries
- Unexplained damage to vehicle or belongings
The next step is to determine what you can afford. Assisted living can offer tremendous value to residents when compared to receiving care at home. When you’ve found a community that’s right for your family member, contact an advisor or someone who can help determine what needs your family member have — medical or otherwise. If the community can accommodate your family member, then take a tour of it. It’s important that your parents feel comfortable with their new home as this can be a major life changing decision for them.
As a family, you’ll need to come to a decision about what to do, with your parent’s mental and physical health as a primary signal to what decision you should make. Remember, many continuing care facilities offer a continuum of care, allowing for the level of care to be adjusted as the need demands it. Once a proper plan is determined, the move can be made.
Starting the Conversation
Start by collecting your thoughts, whether on paper or even having a practice conversation with your family members before talking to your parents. It may help to determine a list of topics that you’d like to discuss with your family member, which can help to keep you focused and able to overcome any objections your parents may have. The decision to move to a continuing care retirement community isn’t one to be made overnight, so don’t expect instant results. Instead, prepare for it to be a discussion managed over time. You may find that inviting your parents to tour different senior living communities, and even to take part in social events, can help sway even the most stubborn mind. It may also help your parents come to terms with the situation by discussing how their own parents were cared for in their later years, and what they would have done differently. Finally, don’t let your parents feel like they don’t have a voice in this conversation. Ask what their own care preferences are, and make sure that they are heard.
The most important aspect of this conversation is to not be hasty, and to take the time to convey your concerns. Today seniors have a wide range of living options to choose from, and having an open dialogue with them will help to narrow down what is right for your parents as they age.
- Try to understand the reasons for their behavior. Are they depressed? Are they confused? Are they afraid of moving out of their home? The more that you can relate to how they feel the more you’ll be able to communicate why this decision is good for them by addressing each individual emotional challenge.
- Determine how important the concern is. Is your loved one putting themselves at risk by not being in a continuing care community? Are you trying to put your own concerns at peace? Your mother or father may not be willing to change for themselves, but they may for you or your children and acknowledging the realistic need for assisted or independent living can spur the conversation, as it allows you to put the biggest concerns first.
- Think ahead. Is there something they want to be around for such as a graduation, anniversary, wedding, or other event? If so, talk about it! Making sure that your parents know that you’re thinking about their wants and needs can help to prevent them from feeling like you just want to force them into a home.
- Treat them like adults. Your parents may be stubborn, but they aren’t children, so don’t treat them like they are. Infantilizing your parents can make them feel marginalized, and that their concerns aren’t being fully addressed.
- Understand the situation. You may want to think that your parents will listen to you, but it can be tough for them. As they say, “you can take a horse to water, but you can’t make them drink”. Even by expressing your concerns and addressing theirs, your parents may still not make the choice you want them to make.
- Don’t beat yourself up. At the end of the day, you may not be able to convince your parents that it’s time, and it may lead to an tense situation, but the fact is that they will likely choose to do what they want. The best you can do is try to make them see why this may be a good idea, and respect their decision if they don’t agree.
Download a copy of our Senior Living Guidefor more information in helping your parents decide on a facility that’s right for them.
- What is the staff-to-resident ratio?
- What training and experience does the staff have?
- How many staff members are on duty overnight?
- Can staff administer medications?
- Is there a 24/7 staff nurse?
- Is there an initial assessment prior to admission?
- What types of floorplans are available?
- What monthly costs are there?
- Are all services included in monthly fees?
- If there is a wait list, how many are on it and what is the policy?
- What sort of additional services are available if the needs of the resident changes?
- What is the discharge policy?
- What are current residents like?
- Are there outdoor spaces?
- What sort of social events are offered?
Making the Move & Beyond: Moving Parents Checklist
- Bed – either rent a comfortable hospital bed (if needed) or use one with a familiar mattress
- Nightstand – for organization, as well as a nice place for a lamp
- Seating – small sofa, a chair with arms, or a rocker are best. Avoid chairs on casters.
- Shelving – something with drawers for extra storage space.
- Table – look for a small kitchen table, as standard dining tables will likely be too large.
- Dresser – It’s frequently easier for seniors to store their belongings in a closet with extra storage rather than hanging everything. As such, a large dresser can provide plenty of space.
- Dishes & glasses for everyday use – probably only settings for 6 people
- Pots & Pans – large and small pots and pans with a frying pan may be sufficient.
- Nice serving dish – if there will be entertaining purposes, or if your family member simply loves cooking
- Shoes & Non skid slippers
- Medications & instructions
- A file for medical, legal, and financial paperwork
- Photographs for display or in books – we recommend digitizing large galleries
- Heirlooms or mementos that will provide a sense of home
- A small safe for important items, though it’s recommended to leave items that aren’t frequently used elsewhere.
This is important to narrow down. Too many clothes will reduce storage space, and likely won’t get worn. Ensure the following are brought, and be careful about over-packing.
- A Robe
- Bathing suit if necessary
- Nice outfits for socializing
- At least two weeks of underwear and socks
- Dish soap
- Bleach wipes
- Window cleaner
- Bathroom cleaner
- Laundry detergent
- Dusting cloth
- Paintings or photographs
- Curtains, though blinds are generally provided
- Lamps & lightbulbs
If you are providing electronics for your family member, be sure that they know how to operate it so that valuable space isn’t being taken up
- Hobby Supplies (needlework, painting, craft supplies, books, etc)
- Lots of collectibles & trinkets
- Throw rugs or area rugs
- Wheeled chairs
- Seldom-worn jewelry
- Multiples of items like mugs, appliances, robes, coats, purses or handbags, etc
- Large-scale furniture
- Boxes of items for storage
If items aren’t being frequently used then it’s best to leave them at home, as they’ll only take up valuable space, and will likely not be used
Regardless of your parents’ demeanor, it’s important to focus on making the transition as easy for your loved one as possible. It may be tough for them to adjust to their new surroundings and new routines, even if they’re looking forward to the change. Your parents may find that the first few months are the most difficult, but they’ll find that ongoing communication with you will help significantly in their adjustment process. Other tips to help your parents adjust to their new settings are:
- Make it easy to continue a hobby or established routine. Your parents will find it easier to adjust if the habits they’ve built over a lifetime are carried into their new home. For instance, if your father starts the day off with the newspaper every morning, then be sure to forward the newspaper to their new address.
- Keep communication open. Speaking to your parents frequently, and encouraging other family members to as well, can be a great way to make them feel as though they’re not forgotten about, and that they’re being well taken care of.
- Visit regularly. There’s no more convincing way to show that you care about your parents than taking time to spend with them. You can go alone or bring the full family, or even bring one of your family member’s old friends or neighbors so that they can keep those bonds strong. Encourage your parents to partake in activities, and occasionally join them for these activities.
- Encourage your loved ones to maintain ties to familiar surroundings and activities. If your dad wants to be taken to see his old home, or your mother wants to visit her old hair dresser then encourage them to do so. Opportunities for your parents to reminisce can be very positive and beneficial on their psyche.
- Encourage your loved one to socialize with other residents. It can be very lonely to move into a new place, which will leave a heavy mental toll on your loved one. Encouraging them to actively engage with those around them, even make friends or acquaintances will help make a new home feel familiar.
2016 Annual Report
Interested in learning more about our organization?