So, your parents need assisted living? I can relate. A few months ago, I received a call from my stepbrother letting me know dad’s doctor appointment with the neurologist confirmed what we have known for the past year. Dad needs more help than mom, or we can give. It’s time to take the next step in the process of aging – assisted living.
I remember moving out when I was 18. It was time for me to take the next step. When I reflect on those days, I could never imagine myself comfortable with my children moving out at such a young age. We find ourselves in a much different world than 1984, the year I graduated high school. Things were a lot different then. There were no cell phones, social media, or rampant hatred and violence. A landline phone was the best method of communication, and rabbit ears were the best way to get additional channels on television.
Now my mom and dad have to move. They need to move into a facility that can provide the help they each require. Moving in with me is not what is best for either of them, and they both need more than I am capable of doing. So, the search begins.
First step. What kind of facility do they need?
For dad, we knew right away. Memory care was the only option that made the most sense for his condition. His body was good; his mind was a mess. His frontal lobe dementia had gotten worse over the past year to the point where mom was staying awake most nights babysitting dad. Many times he awakened in the middle of the night to use the bathroom in the closet. He fussed with the sheets and blankets. And then there were the times he thought he messed the bed and had to take everything off. In some ways, mom was back to caring for a little child.
The days weren’t much better. Mom watched his every move, not knowing what he would get himself into. He forgot how to make coffee and how to unload the dishwasher. He needed help with his medication and reminders to eat. Dressing himself was another struggle, often putting multiple socks on one foot. The job was overwhelming for mom, especially when she got little sleep the night before.
For me, the hardest part was watching a man who loved life and people slowly slip away into his new reality. An avid golfer at 80, the days of going to breakfast and playing 18 holes with the guys disappeared like a deer into the woods. No more tinkering around the garage or tending the yard. Watching GRIT on television was now a challenge because he couldn’t remember how to work the remote, a remote he had worked for years.
For mom, it is physical. Her mind is pretty sound; her body is a mess. Mom has suffered for years with one ailment after another and is on a plethora of medications. And while she can still balance a checkbook and manage all the bills, her physical limitations presented challenges far beyond my abilities. An assisted living place was best for her.
Knowing she could not live with dad in a memory care unit, she decided to live on a different property. She had cared for him for the last several years, and she was tired. Mom could finally get some rest. Maybe in her mind, it was easier she didn’t see his continued decline each day. I don’t know, but it was her decision, and we honored her decision.
Now comes the fun part – finding a place.
We decided to divide and conquer. My stepbrothers would search for a place for dad.
I would handle the search for my mom.
Their search was narrow in scope because they knew they needed to find a memory care facility. I, on the other hand, had a few choices.
I could place her in a multi-care facility or a specialized facility. She could start in independent living or go right to assisted living.
What’s the difference?
Level of care.
From what I have found in my search, there are six options. There may be more, but here are the ones I found:
- Independent living
- Assisted Living
- Memory Care
- Nursing Home
- Skilled Nursing
- Private Duty Nursing
Ask these questions.
Does your loved one need help daily?
Are they able to manage their medications?
Do they need assistance with showering or going to the bathroom?
What about eating? Do they need assistance with feeding themselves? Can they still cook?
Can they walk without assistance?
Can they do their laundry and clean up after themselves?
Are they able to pay their bills?
Can your parent(s) still drive?
Are they a fall risk? Do they need fall protection or an alert necklace?
You may have other questions.
Once you narrow down what your loved one is capable of, you can narrow your search. But that’s just the beginning.
Then comes the bigger question – what can you or your parent(s) afford?
This, my friend, is where, as they say, the rubber meets the road.
Join me next time as we dive into the cost of assisted living.
Allow me to encourage you with a scripture from the Bible that was helpful to me. The verse is from Psalm 46:1, “God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.”
Here’s another one – Psalm 71:12, “O God, be not far from me; O my God, make haste to help me!”
Seek the Lord for guidance on how you should go when helping your aging parent(s). He is faithful in our time of need if we call on his name.
The Teaching Lady