Reality can be an unwanted interloper in our promises to take care of family in their senior years. We may see signs that an aging loved one needs more care — either around-the-clock or specialized — than what can be provided during family visits. This can be difficult for all involved: family because we may feel as though we are letting our loved one down and for a loved one because of the fear of the unknown, worry that family won’t visit and concern about living in a new home with strangers.
That’s why it is a good idea to suggest exploring supportive services like those provided through Wesley’s Catered Living program. Wesley’s private apartments, meals, social and health programs, opportunities for continued learning and flexible support help older adults be independent for as long as possible.
With Catered Living, Wesley’s home care staff works with you and your family to create a customized service package to meet your needs. The services are similar to assisted living but in a more independent setting and with the flexibility to increase or reduce services.
So how can we tell when it’s time to explore Catered Living for a family member?
Watching for the signs
At first, it may be tempting to deny what our eyes and ears are telling us when we see initial signs that our loved one needs additional assistance. It’s easy to dismiss repeated reminders to take medications as normal forgetfulness that happens as people age. A skipped meal may just be a one-time occurrence — until there’s noticeable weight loss over time. Increased difficulties in getting around could be explained by accelerated aches and pains or an arthritic flare-up. What older adult doesn’t occasionally have those?
It may not be necessary to act on these observations immediately, but it is important to keep a record of any progression of these indicators. An increased inability to maneuver could lead to a fall, and getting up may be difficult or even impossible for some older adults. Even if seniors are able to get up, falls can cause bruising, breaks, other traumatic injuries or even death. In 2018, falls accounted for over 30,000 deaths in older individuals. With Catered Living, seniors can push their emergency call button to get help from onsite staff.
If loved ones are able to get around safely in their home, bringing in a handyman to install non-stick flooring and grab bars can be a big help. Be sure to consider other factors, such as loneliness, lack of personal care and overdue home maintenance, to help determine if Catered Living is a better option.
Developing the dialogue
Take a gentle approach to opening up the conversation to transitioning to supportive living. If we notice loved ones are isolated, take them to a senior social activity. Talk about how nice it would be for them to be able to do that more often or even daily. Get family members and family physicians on board to encourage the change. Use positive phrases such as “a new home with support” or “a caring community,” which are more appealing approaches than using a word like “facility.” Also incorporate positive body language by maintaining eye contact, keeping your head straight and positioning your arms by your sides.
If your loved one is willing to consider or is ready to plan a move, take him or her on tours of retirement communities. Let them point out what they like or dislike about each one, what they’ll miss about their own home and what they might be able bring with them, including a pet.
Creating comfort and confidence
Finding a home that emits warmth and caring can help set your senior loved one’s mind at ease with this transition, as well as yours. By being careful to start a gentle and considerate dialogue, you are less likely to encounter strong resistance and can gently set the path toward getting your loved one the increased access to care that they need through Catered Living.
Wesley offers a range of different aging options to suit your lifestyle and preferences. Get in touch by filling out the form below.
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