How To Help Elderly Parents When They Can No Longer Live Alone
By Christine Martinez, Senior Care Manager & Advocate
So… the time has come to move your elderly parent(s) into an assisted living facility?
This is often an extremely sensitive topic because the decision is not completely up to you unless you serve as your parent’s legal guardian. If you decide your parent’s need to move to a place where they will receive more care, you will need your parent’s permission. If your parents say no to moving, you will have to either find ways to make it safer to live at home or find a way to convince them it’s time to move. Throughout my many years working with both seniors and their adult children, I have found that senior parents are more likely to cooperate if the adult children are actively listening to their concerns. Nothing stops things faster than when their children start making decisions on their behalf without their input.
When this starts to happen, I am surprised when the children are stunned that their parents are no longer willing to listen to them. I once had a client who took 6 months to make the decision to leave her home to move into an independent retirement home. Everything was progressing nicely until her daughters decided that Mom needed to have a garage sale to get rid of her household belongings.
This was a huge issue for the senior! I later received a call from the retirement home, asking if I could figure out why the client didn’t want to move. Upon talking with the client, I learned that her out-of-state daughter had recently come to visit, set up a garage sale and sold most of her belongings without consulting her. The senior was very upset and felt betrayed by the acts of her daughters. The senior went out with one daughter and was shocked upon returning home to find out that all of her favorite dishes along with some other valuables had been sold. Her daughters thought it was best to have this garage sale without telling her because they figured it was the most effective route to downsizing the household. This was a huge no-go, resulting in a complete loss of trust with their elderly mother.
I often serve as a mediator for seniors and their adult children, so I offered her a solution she could not refuse. I told her that if she decided to move, I would personally ensure that everything she wanted would be waiting for her inside of her new place. At A Solution By Design, we specialize in Senior relocation services, which consist of us appropriately downsizing the household as the senior is preparing to move into a retirement facility. We established trust from the beginning and from that point forward, everything went as desired. We moved her into a new independent retirement home apartment where she happily lived for many years.
When trying to convince seniors to move into a retirement home, it is beneficial to sit down with them and write down all the benefits of moving out of their homes. Below is a list of 9 benefits that we recommend discussing with your elderly parent to help ensure the transition goes smoothly:
1. The senior will no longer have to prepare meals because the retirement homes provide 2 to 3 hot meals per day.
2. The senior will no longer have to perform any housework because the retirement home cleans their apartment on a weekly basis.
3. The senior will no longer have to schedule someone to provide maintenance or repairs for the home since that is the responsibility of the retirement home. If something needs fixing, the senior just has to fill out a maintenance request.
4. The senior will no longer have to hire someone to mow the lawn or do landscaping of any kind. This is the responsibility of the facility.
5. The senior will no longer have to drive themselves or ask someone for a ride to the doctor’s office or to the grocery stores because transportation is provided at the facilities.
6. The senior will no longer have to do their own laundry. The facility provides laundry services for linens and towels and at a minimal extra charge for personal laundry.
7. The senior will no longer spend their days alone in a home by themselves. The facilities have regularly scheduled activities, outings and exercise classes.
8. The senior will no longer have to pay for property taxes.
9. The senior will no longer have to pay for any utilities like water or electricity.
The number one reason that seniors feel like that they cannot move into a retirement home is they cannot afford it. On many occasions, I ask the adult children to sit down with their parent(s) and write down all the household expenses and then compare that to the cost of living in a retirement home.
The only other expense besides paying for room and board is a personal phone or internet. All other services are included in the rent. I have found that after the financial analysis is completed, the seniors are usually spending more money to live at home then they would be living in an independent retirement home.
One of the most important benefits of moving into a retirement home is that the senior is never completely alone. If he or she falls, there are pull cords, life alert necklaces, and staff members readily available to assist the senior.
After you have convinced your senior parent(s) to move, you may have the following questions on your mind:
Where do I move my parent(s)?
What locations are available?
How do I start this process?
How much will this cost me?
How do I know what facility is best for my parent(s) needs?
It is very important to understand the type of facilities available before making a final decision to ensure that the senior’s lifestyle, level of care needed, likes and dislikes are taken into account. We recommend taking your elderly parent (s) to different types of retirement homes so that they can get a feel for where they will be moving. Some seniors may prefer one setting over another, which is why we recommend that you take the time to decide which location makes your senior the most comfortable. Please see our description of the different assisted living facilities below:
Independent Living Retirement Homes
Independent Living Retirement Homes come in all shapes and sizes. These facilities are for seniors who can function well on their own with regards to their medical needs such as taking their medications as well as getting around on their own with or without a walker. The main reasons that seniors move into independent retirement homes are for socialization amongst their peers, hot prepared meals, routine housekeeping and transportation to doctor’s appointments.
Assisted Retirement Homes
Assisted Retirement Homes also vary in sizes. Unlike Independent retirement homes, these facilities are for seniors who need help with daily living functions like bathing, getting dressed and assistance to get around the facility. They may also need help with the administration of medications. The same type of amenities that are provided in an Independent retirement home is also provided in an assisted retirement home. Most of these assisted retirement homes are rather large in size compared to the senior’s home. Some seniors do not do well in a regular assisted retirement home.
Senior Group Homes
Senior Group Homes serve as an alternative to retirement homes, which usually house less than 20 residents. They are much smaller in size, less corporate and more homelike. The cost of a group home is usually less substantial than a regular assisted retirement home.
Residential Care Homes
Residential Care Homes serve as another alternative to larger assisted retirement homes. A residential care home is a privately owned home which has caregivers located at the residence 24 hours a day. Each residence has their own room which may or may not have a private bathroom. If there are 3 or fewer seniors, the owners of the residential care home do not have to be licensed. As a rule, residential care homes usually have less than 10 residents. These homes do not have all the amenities of a regular assisted retirement home, however, more one-on-one personal care around the clock is provided. The cost is usually less substantial than a regular assisted retirement home.
Senior Apartment Complexes
Senior Apartment Complexes are very similar to regular apartment complexes, however, everyone who lives there has to be over a certain age. Depending on the guidelines per each complex, it is usually 60 or above. These places are preferred to the other types of options for a couple of good reasons. Senior Apartment Complexes are far more inexpensive than all other alternatives and enhance senior citizen peer-to-peer interaction.
Nursing Homes are mostly for seniors who need lots of medical attention and cannot survive on their own. These places are very expensive and the staff to resident ratio is very high. Usually, the senior will have to share their room with another resident. If a senior cannot afford a nursing home, they usually have to resort to getting qualified under Medicaid. In my opinion and experience with senior clients, placing your senior in a nursing home should serve as the last resort only! The atmosphere in nursing homes is not conducive to a long and thriving life.