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Learn from the first-hand experiences of others.

Slide background

Learn from the first-hand experiences of others.

Slide background

Learn from the first-hand experiences of others.

Slide background

Learn from the first-hand experiences of others.


people found Joyce's experience helpful.

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Over time, I began to sense my mother was no longer her vibrant, dynamic self. Financial matters became shaky, her memory began to wane, and her physical strength was visibly less than in previous years. One Christmas, I knew she had reached a point where more care was needed. As I was tied up with a family business, I explored assisted living as an option for her care.

Choosing an Assisted Living Facility

Eldercare experts recommend visiting a number of facilities to learn the different services they offer and the different types of atmosphere. Some assisted living centers are small and offer more individualized care. Other facilities are very large and offer many services, but may not suit all elders’ needs. Look for cleanliness, friendly staff, good access to medical care, good food, and programs to keep residents mentally and physically active. Talk to the current residents to see how they like living at the facility.

Involve the Elder in Decision-Making

During our visits to a number of facilities, I pointed out particular features that related to my mother's special interests and needs. In her case, she particularly liked the availability of religious services in her faith and the periodic craft demonstrations at one particular facility. It’s critical to involve your parent in the decisions about where to move and what services are needed. Parents may have their own ideas about how they want to spend their later years, and it’s unfair to impose your wishes on them. It’s likely the parent has been making his or her own decisions for some time, so you can avoid resentment by allowing your parent a strong voice in the decisions that are being made.

Making the Transition

The move to assisted living can be very disruptive to older people who have lived for many years in their own homes. Letting go of familiar furniture, decorations and other items can be heartbreaking. I advise other adult children to make sure they pack photo albums, family portraits, professional awards, and other objects that are representative of their lives so that the elder has a sense of continuity going forward. My mother was able to bring a rocking chair that belonged to her own mother and some special portraits of the grandchildren to make her new quarters at the facility more homey.

The first few days in the new living quarters may be difficult and even tearful. Making new friends at an older age can be uncomfortable. I advise visiting as often as possible and spending time talking with others at the center to aid the elder in feeling part of the group. Before long, he or she will adjust to the new schedule of activities, new faces, and different pace of the assisted living facility. Fortunately, my mother was agreeable to the change in living arrangement. She understood her need for more help and worked positively with me to find the right facility for her needs.

Mistakes Adult Children Often Make

I wish I had tackled the thorny issues of finances earlier with my mother. Knowing she struggled with keeping track of bills and wouldn’t allow herself to ask for my help is an upsetting thought. I also wish I had researched the financing of assisted living a bit more before we started the process. I found myself having to catch up on terms and state regulations quickly as we were underway.

Make the Process Easier

If you have an aging parent, you can take a number of actions in advance to ensure that the transition to an assisted living facility is easier to accomplish when the time comes.

• Talk to your parent about care choices before they are needed. Many aging parents think that they will automatically come to live with family for their elderly care. However, heavy work schedules and long commute times may make this option impractical. Get your parent accustomed to the idea of assisted living. Share articles that discuss the convenience of assisted living facilities and the many services that are offered. If your parent has friends in assisted living, go for a visit together so that the idea is not foreign but instead an acceptable option that many people choose every day.

• Have a frank discussion about finances with your aging parent. You will need to know how much money is available for care in the coming years. Many parents are very closed off about discussing financial matters. Again, use magazine and newspaper articles as a jumping-off point for conversation. These articles can help to make your parent more comfortable discussing these matters.

• Get critical documents in order before you need them. Don’t wait until you must deal with possible parental memory problems before locating birth certificates, marriage certificates, military service documents, powers of attorney, and health care directives. You will save yourself a great deal of chaos and frustration if you have a copy of these on hand when you need them for the assisted living facility or other types of elderly care.

With a little planning and a lot of patience, you can get your loved one settled in assisted living so that they can be well cared for in a safe environment. You will find that it’s often the best solution for reliable care for your beloved parent.

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