Perhaps your parent is starting to struggle with their normal daily tasks and they are beginning to need outside support more often. You have been able to provide love and care as much as you can, but it is now getting to the point in which it’s challenging to keep up on your own.
This is completely normal, and it is time to be realistic about your ability to care for another person—even if that person is your parent. When it comes down to it, the main concern is your parent’s happiness and well-being. In order to make that possible, there are some new options you can start to explore together.
Where your loved one goes next all depends on how much assistance is needed and what sort of environment is the best fit. Older adults want to maintain the fact that they have a choice. They like their independence and the way life is at home. This can make the transition to a place that has been labeled for the “elderly” seem like something to approach with caution.
However, not all of the elder care options out there will feel like such a drastic change. Baby Boomers have disrupted expectations their entire lives and senior living will be no different. They represent the "have it your way" generation so the choices today offer much greater personalization. You may be surprised how comfortable and appealing communities for older adults are these days.
What’s Out There
There are a great selection of options that are specifically created to assist older adults in the things they require a little more help with, while at the same time giving them space to maintain their independence, continue to flourish in their lives, and simply be themselves.
Assisted living communities are often mistaken for nursing homes, though they are actually incredibly different. With the right community and care plan in place, not many of the important things in your parent’s life have to change. The changes that will be made are purely positive ones. Take some time to check out the options available now and you will see that there really are opportunities for people that don’t feel elderly at all, but more like the much-deserved break they have been looking forward to.
How Assisted Living Keeps You Independent
When looking for the ideal fit for your parent, you will want to find a place that provides something to be excited about along with trustworthy healthcare support. Look for communities that provide:
- Access to physical activity and fitness with diverse, fun class options like Zumba, yoga, and cycling.
- Plenty of new learning opportunities such as computer classes, book clubs, and art classes. Some communities near a college even allow residents to take advantage of their education resources.
- A wide range of healthy, interesting, and enjoyable dining experiences. No matter if your loved one likes to stick to their favorite foods or prefers to explore different cuisines, every kind of food enthusiast should be taken into consideration.
- Housekeeping and transportation assistance that ensures that comfort and mobility are easy and convenient.
Because of the examples listed above, the right community will balance care with a rewarding life that provides room for fun and discovery. According to research documented in JAMA Internal Medicine, two million people over the age of 65 who live alone are completely or mostly homebound.
Assisted living, on the other hand, opens up a world of opportunity by eliminating barriers such as transportation to create a more purposeful, vibrant life at any age. Your parent will feel younger and healthier, without being weighed down by his or her inability to carry out daily chores and appointments.
Visiting communities together can empower loved ones and will help your parent see how enriching a life in a senior community can actually be.
What You Can Do to Help
You will likely have to make some adjustments to prepare for this change, too. For most of your life, your parent has been supporting you through your journey and now the roles have been reversed. Here are a couple of things to consider as you start down this path:
- Help your loved one embrace this change as a positive one. Know that this move is an adjustment but one that reopens doors that have started to close for your loved one. A move will ultimately benefit your parent’s health and happiness.
- Include your parent in the decision. Find some decisions that your parent can make so they feel in control. If possible, narrow down the choices and then bring your parent for a visit or lunch so they can have a voice in the final choice. Have your parent choose the apartment, what to bring and how to arrange their space.
- Visit communities at different times. Your parent will be living at the community 24 hours a day so it is important to experience the community at various times. Communities can operate differently on weekends when the management team is typically off. Ideally, there will be managers scheduled weekends and holidays so there is leadership in place.
- Stay for a meal. The dining experience is important. Your parent will have most of their meals at the community so quality, service and variety is critical. When you get close to a decision, be sure to sample the food. It is also a great opportunity to talk with the residents to get their perspective of the community!
There are many organizations that exist to help people find the right place for their parent. Here are a few:
You know your parent best—what brings them pleasure, gives them purpose, and nourishes their spirit. Our best advice is to take your time to consider all the options so you will find the place that will support their individuality and create a vibrant space to flourish. But most of all, find a place that will allow your loved one to live their best life. Don’t worry—with the right research and ability to explore all of your options, you will find the right place.