It can be a difficult moment when you come to realize that your mom or dad needs senior care in a setting like assisted living. As young children, we saw our parents as all-powerful sources of benevolence and care. It’s sometimes difficult to admit that the roles have reversed. But just as our parents kept us safe, sheltered and secure when we were little and vulnerable, we’re called on to return this love to our parents when they need a helping hand and a comfortable, safe place due to the frailties and ailments associated with advanced age.
Some of us will provide care to our parents in our own home for a period, but this is not always possible for all families, or always desired by the children or parents themselves.
Naturally, many families find themselves searching for assisted living, an intermediate level of residential care for seniors who aren’t safe living alone. Ideally, your parents can be full participants in the search; but when your loved one is impaired by Alzheimer’s disease or dementia you may have to proactively take more control of the decision making.
If you see that your parents need assisted living care, here are steps to help you find the right care:
1. Get Your Loved One Involved
The more involved your parents are in the search, the better. Of course you can do much of the legwork for them, but have discussions with your parents about their desires and preferences and, ideally, present them with a range of options. If your parent is in denial about his or her need for care, read our article about overcoming resistance in the situations.
2. Figure out What You Can Afford
Like it or not, money is going to be a factor in most families’ searches. Look at what your family can afford on a monthly basis. Look into veteran’s benefits and other creative ways to pay for care. Some seniors and families may have to consider difficult options such as pooling resources form the senior’s grown children, selling a family home or even cashing-in a life insurance policy.
3. Tour Senior Communities
No amount of time viewing photos, brochures, floor plans or reviews can substitute for an in-person visit to a community. Schedule visits for you and your parent at least three of the communities on your short-list. A good time to tour is during a meal, such as lunch, for example. Potential residents can try the food and get a good sense of the community’s culture; as most of the residents will be out and about during a mealtime. Perform follow up tours, perhaps even unannounced, to get a good sense for the community you and your parent are considering.
4. Come to a Decision
Whether your parent is choosing the community themselves or whether you need to make that decision for parents impaired by dementia or Alzheimer’s, try to make sure that everyone in your family feels good about the choice. When possible, have conversations with your parents discussing the pros and cons of each option and try to find consensus about the right option. You can also check the background of an assisted living community you are considering with the licensing agency in your state that monitors assisted living.
5. Make the Move
If you’ve come this far in the process, there’s no sense needlessly delaying the process. It’s risky to procrastinate when a parent needs care, as the delay can lead to avoidable accidents and medical problems.