Should I Move to Senior Living During Covid-19 or Still Wait?

Should I Move to Senior Living During Covid-19 or Still Wait?

Over the last several months, many families have made the decision to keep their aging parents or loved ones at home, instead of moving into a senior living community, out of fear of exposure to COVID-19. At The Classic, we have heard many time over that adult children are overwhelmed, tired, and not focused on their own self-care, but they still worry about mom or dad moving into a community setting. There truly are some definite reasons why moving into a senior living community sooner actually may be the right option:

  • Vaccination and Availability of Medical Resources

Senior living communities like The Classic are partnering with pharmacies like CVS and Walgreens to administer COVID-19 vaccines to their residents and staff. A first round of vaccines has already been given to our population with a second vaccine due to be administered shortly. You can be assured that your loved one is receiving the vaccine and any ongoing boosters at no cost without having to be exposed to other individuals as they would possibly be at a clinic or other health care center.

  • Exercise and Physical Health

Especially for those with memory loss, engagement and exercise are critical for overall health. The Classic offers a wealth of activities that are purposefully designed for our individual residents. With team members onsite daily to provide leadership for these activities, it prevents the need to bring in outside providers or trainers which increases the risk of exposure. Having onsite activity leaders also allows a bond to be formed between staff and residents making them more likely to join in the fun.

  • Safety and Security

Private residences may run out of resources like food, toiletries, medications, or other necessities that senior communities have their fingertips. Senior communities are often well-stocked with all necessary items no toilet paper shortages here. In addition, adequate senior communities will monitor deliveries, use hand sanitizer, have amplification of cleaning procedures, and ensure that the limited visitors to the community follow proper safety protocols.

  • Connection in a Time of Social Distancing

Many seniors are currently isolated in their homes and have been for several months. This can make it difficult to keep connected with family. Senior communities like The Classic continue to offer scheduled in-person family visits as well as access to video technology so families and loved ones can stay in touch. Our Life Enrichment team continues to come up with creative ways to provide activities that are safe and fun.

  • Less Strain and Stress, More Focus on Your Relationship with Your Loved One

As you are well aware, it can be straining to offer help and care to your elderly loved ones while also keeping yourself and your family safe and healthy during this unprecedented time. By helping mom or dad transition and move into a new home in a senior living community, younger family members are liberated from caregiving roles and instead can spend more meaningful time with their loved ones. Families constantly express how appreciative they are of the individualized care and engagement provided for their loved one and how they wish they had decided to make the choice sooner.

Whether you are searching for independent living, assisted living, or memory care, The Classic has made the purposeful choice to dedicate our staff to providing exemplary care. You can be assured that your loved ones are good hands!

Convincing Your Parent to Move to Assisted Living

Convincing Your Parent to Move to Assisted Living

Conventional wisdom says that we all want to stay in our own homes for as long as we can. That is how most of our elders feel, but it’s not always in their best interest to do so. How do we talk with them about the realities and dangers of staying at home once their health is failing? How do we convince them that a move to an assisted living community could be a mentally and physically beneficial option?

Is Aging in Place a Safe Option for Seniors?

Part of the problem with convincing elders, and many younger people for that matter, is that most haven’t been inside a modern assisted living facility. Deep inside, they harbor the outdated images of an “old folks” rest home, with cement block walls and the smell of stale urine. They consider a move from the family home as one more step away from independence and one step closer toward death. This image and mindset are stubborn and inaccurate for most seniors.

Professional in-home care and a personal alarm are sufficient for some seniors to remain safely at home. But if they are alone or their spouse is frail, there’s no one to help them in case they fall and can’t set off their alarm. There are few opportunities to socialize. Meals become a chore, so some seniors stop eating. Their memory may be failing, so the stove doesn’t get turned off. An elder who stubbornly clings to the idea that their familiar home is the best for them is often a sad and lonely sight.

Seniors Thrive in Assisted Living

Contrast this life with living in a reputable assisted living center, whether it’s a stand-alone facility, one connected to a nursing home or a small family operation where only a few seniors reside. In any of these situations, seniors can thrive for several reasons. They don’t have the responsibility of maintaining a home, so they are relieved of the pressure to hire help, tackle household projects themselves or let the house deteriorate. Assisted Living communities have trained staff available 24/7 in case residents need medical help or other assistance. Fully prepared nutritious food and snacks are available. Perhaps, more importantly, seniors can make new friends and have an abundance of engaging activities to choose from.

So…you know that you can’t keep providing the constant oversight that has been taking over your life and, by extension, the lives of your spouse and children. You are convinced that mom and/or dad need to make a move. But, how do you go about convincing them that it’s time to think about a move to assisted living?

Convincing a Parent to Consider Assisted Living

  • First, plant the seed. Don’t approach your loved one(s) as though you’ve already made the decision for them. Simply mention that there are other options out there that could make life easier and more fun for them.
  • Next, research nearby assisted living communities and offer to take them on some tours. If he or she is willing, great! But don’t push it. Drop the subject if they resist, and wait for another day to tackle this next step.
  • Wait for a “teachable moment” to present itself. Did mom fall, but manage to avoid getting badly hurt? Use that as a springboard. You may want to wait a bit or immediately say something like, “Wow, that was a close call, and I’m sure it was a very scary experience for you. Once you’re feeling better, maybe we could go look at the new assisted living center over by the church. We’d both feel better if you had people around.” Go with your gut on the timing, but use this unfortunate event as an opportunity to give your loved one a gentle reality check.
  • Unless you consider your loved one’s need for placement in assisted living an emergency, don’t push. It’s hard to wait, but you will likely need to. Wait for, say, a very lonely day when mom is complaining about how she never sees her friends anymore. Then gently try again. Do your best to make them feel they are in control of their life and this decision.
  • Ask around to see if anyone you know has a loved one who is already made the move. It’s even better if you find that one of your loved one’s friends has already made the move. Just like your first day of school when you looked for a friend any friend who may be in your class, your parent would feel much better if there was a familiar face already in the senior living community.
  • Even if they don’t know anyone in a specific facility, you can still take your parent to enjoy a meal or participate in an activity, such as playing cards or Wii bowling. Show off the social aspects of a good community. Keep it light and don’t force the issue. Tour more than one community, if possible, ask your parent for their input.
  • On tours, show interest in how much privacy residents have. Ask about bringing furniture from home and how much space there is in each room. Take a measuring tape and visualize how your loved one’s apartment could be set up and decorated. Demonstrate the same level of excitement as you would if you were helping your parent move to a new apartment, because that is exactly what you are doing.
  • Stress the benefits and peace of mind that increased safety measures will offer both of you.
  • Highlight the fact that assisted living allows seniors to forgo daily chores and hassles so they can focus on things they actually want to do. There’s no yard work, but gardening activities are offered. Meals are available in the dining room or restaurant, but many apartment feature full kitchen, so seniors can cook if they wish. There’s plenty of freedom to be alone, but also plenty of opportunity for company when the desire it. You know your loved one best, so stress the aspects that you know they’ll enjoy.

The last step in this process is to wait and let it all sink in. Unfortunately, many caregivers have to wait for another fall or other health scare to occur before their elders will be willing to make the decision themselves.

If your family is close-knit, arrange a meeting and tell mom or dad how much better everyone would feel if the move were made. Don’t make it seem like an intervention or a done deal that they have no say in. Allow everyone involved to discuss their concerns and anxieties about the current situation and a potential move. Third parties often make headway where family fails.

Making The Move to Assisted Living

Be sensitive to your parent’s feelings. Leaving a home full of memories is a very difficult and emotional decision. Whittling down a lifetime of possessions is a lot to ask of someone. Be kind, be sensitive and try to make it be about your parent and not about you.

It is worth noting that loved ones with memory loss may not be fully aware of their limitations and remain adamant about staying at home. Unfortunately, for their families, no amount of rational thinking or negotiation will get the elder to change their mind. Power of attorney or guardianship proceedings and some white lies may necessary to get a loved one to move to a new setting where their safety and wellbeing are guaranteed.

Dementia and Your Loved One: Are You in Denial?

Dementia and Your Loved One: Are You in Denial?

It’s normal to have difficulty accepting that your aging loved one may be experiencing early signs of dementia. Fear about the future is often described as “the underlying emotion of denial.” It’s human nature to reject what we find as unpleasant or frightening. But denying signs of aging and memory impairment can be dangerous to both caregivers and elderly loved ones. Understanding dangers of denial to you and your aging family member can help keep everyone safe and connected through the difficulties of dementia.

Dangers of Denial for Dementia Caregivers

  • Missed Opportunities

Watching an aging family member struggle with dementia is painful it can be like spending time with a stranger. A common reaction is to visit less often. It can be painful seeing what was a brilliant man being no longer able to hold a long, intelligent conversation and now has the communication skills of a young child. By being deep in denial and visiting a loved one less often, a person can easily miss out on creating special memories. Dementia may change the ways you connect with your aging loved one, but it doesn’t mean you can’t spend quality time with them.

  • Legal Complications

When a senior is deemed mentally incompetent, they can no longer execute legal documents. Without a power of attorney (POA), advance directives, and financial decisions in place, handling a senior’s medical treatment, long-term care, and end-of-life care is more complex. These decisions could fall to a family member who doesn’t know or share the senior’s best interests, rather than to the person of their choice. To eliminate legal complications from denial, suggest your aging relative create advance directives now.

  • Family Conflict

Denying cognitive decline can prevent you and your siblings from creating a successful dementia care plan. It can also irreparably damage family relationships. Denial on the part of a family member can cause family disputes. Adult children in denial don’t help out, and those who are aware, often take on multiple burdens. Quite often, those in denial believe their siblings are overreacting. And after an emergency or accident, the siblings who have been caregivers may blame others for not helping before the dementia became undeniable.

  • Financial Repercussions

Seniors are common targets for scams and financial fraud, and memory loss increases the likelihood of writing duplicate checks, overspending, or making other poor financial choices. Alternatively, dementia can cause seniors to ignore bills, fall behind on mortgage payments and face legal consequences for nonpayment. While many parents don’t want to share private financial information with their children, it’s crucial to discuss financial plans ahead of time so your family doesn’t fall under financial hardship.

  • Caregiver Health Consequences

Caregivers can put their own health at risk when they’re in denial about the help they need caring for a loved one. In fact, family caregivers older than 66 have 63% higher mortality rate than non-caregivers, according to a University of Pittsburgh study. It’s not uncommon to see a couple that has been married for 40-60 years and if one of the spouses goes downhill, the other doesn’t want the rest of the world to know. The caregiver gets sick, and person with dementia doesn’t have care.

If you’re caring full time for an aging relative, use the following guidelines to avoid caregiver burnout and health consequences.

Dementia Denial Dangers for Seniors

  • Falls and Accidents

Falls are the leading cause of both fatal and non-fatal injuries for people older than 60. Proper care and home modifications, such as installing night lights to reduce disorientation at night, can help keep seniors safe. But if you’re in denial about your parents’ declining health, precautions may no be made in time. Dementia behaviors, like forgetting to turn off the oven or garbage disposal, can lead to serious kitchen accidents.

  • Medication and Poor Nutrition

Medication overdose is common in seniors with dementia. Even if you marked pill dispensers, your loved one could be in danger, since people with cognitive impairment often become unaware of days of the week or passage of time.

  • Accidental Harm to Others

Without family intervention, seniors unaware of their dementia may continue dangerous daily tasks like driving. Driving with Alzheimer’s or another type of dementia endangers pedestrians and other vehicles, and it can also cause significant property damage. In the home, a senior with dementia may become disoriented and injure a spouse or family member.

  • Elder Abuse

Unacknowledged dementia can leave seniors vulnerable to multiple types of elder abuse. An aging loved one may be susceptible to financial abuse, or they may be unable to report the details of physical or sexual abuse to the appropriate authorities. Dementia can also lead to elder abuse between spouses. A senior with advanced cognitive decline may experience significant behavioral changes that lead to violence. Alternatively, a caregiver unprepared to deal with dementia behaviors could resort to yelling or other emotional abuse.

  • Delaying Dementia Help

Often, a spouse is aware that their husband or wife has memory impairment, but they don’t want anyone else knowing about it, so they lovingly try to protect them from the outside world and begin to cut off family and friends. Sometimes in the beginning stages a spouse can handle the needed care, but as it snowballs, it will become overwhelming. Caring for a loved one at home is physically, mentally, and emotionally draining. It also puts the senior with dementia at increased risk.

Overcoming denial and caring for someone with dementia

Coming to terms with dementia is difficult but acknowledging what your loved one is going through can get them the right care and treatment for symptoms early on. Here are some tips to help you accept a dementia diagnosis and care for your aging family member.

  • Understand the signs and symptoms of dementia

Mild cognitive impairment can be easy to ignore if you don’t know the warning signs. Understand the seven stages of dementia, which can progress over time often, early cognitive decline goes undetected.

  • Keep a journal

When you begin to suspect dementia, keep a journal (or digital document or iPhone note) about signs and symptoms. Tracking dementia symptoms makes it more difficult to minimize the situation. Write down thoughts and fears to help you process the situation.

  • Learn about dementia

The Internet is full or resources to gain knowledge about dementia. One very good source of information is national Alzheimer’s Association. (www.alz.org).

  • Seek support

Talk with friends, family, or a therapist. By finding others who’ve been through the same situation, you can learn from their experiences.

  • Ask for help

Remember that caregiver burnout is a real danger, and that it can hinder your ability to care for a relative with dementia. Senior daycare, part-time home care, and respite options can provide a break from caregiving.

Professional dementia care helps family caregivers and seniors

Acceptance is the first step. After understanding the risks of denial and determining that your aging loved one may be suffering from dementia, discuss potential solutions. Many people think they can provide all the care themselves. But the truth is, there is awareness, education, and medical knowledge that is needed. If your loved one is diagnosed with a heart problem and they need surgery, you wouldn’t take them home. Memory care needs to be approached in the same way.