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Published Thursday, February 18, 2016

Senior Solutions

By Rick Weisberg

What to do when your parents can no longer live alone? The phrase “it’s complicated” probably sums it up best. Emotions can run high even in the most well-adjusted families when discussing senior living options, support services, health and financial issues. Below are some of frequently asked questions by seniors and their families.

Q: We recently moved my mom into an assisted living facility close to my sister and me. She seems happy, but steadfastly refuses to participate in any of the activities. Should we continue to encourage her – or just let her be?

A: Activities do play an important role in an assisted living, but keep in mind they are only one component of the day-to-day routine. In fact, meals times are probably the most social activity and a great way to create friendships. (Reviews of the food are always a lively topic of conversation!) Talk to the Executive Director and/or Wellness Director and ask their opinion as to how your mom is adjusting to her new environment.

Q: What is the difference between a nursing home and an assisted living facility? Also, how do I know if my father meets the criteria to live in assisted living?

A: Nursing homes, also known as skilled nursing facilities, provide 24-hour, round the clock nursing care. Residents live in one room, often shared – as opposed to apartments. Assisted living facilities offer studios, one bedroom or, in some cases, two bedroom apartments with a support staff such as a Wellness Director (RN) and aides to help residents with the activities of daily living. In terms of eligibility, all assisted living facilities will conduct a medical assessment to determine if an individual qualifies to live in an assisted living.

Q: My mother and father are both in their early eighties. What should our family do now to plan for their future?

A: The first step is to organize a family meeting with your parents and discuss where they envision themselves living as they get older. It’s best not to wait until a crisis such as a fall or illness occurs and you are literally forced to make a decision within days. Of course, this is easier said than done. None of us really want to think about the time when our parents can no longer live alone.

Q: My husband passed away 10 years ago and I moved into a two bedroom condo. I am 85, live alone – and love it! The problem is that both my children live out-of-state and have been pressuring me to move into an assisted living. I know they worry about me, but I treasure my privacy. Are there steps I can take to reassure them while remaining in my home?

A: You sound like you are enjoying your life. Certainly there’s no reason to make a change if you’re able to live independently, but there are steps you can take to ensure your safety , and allow your children to worry less. For example, make sure your home is equipped with medical alert buttons, safety devices in the bathroom and activity sensors. Many families work out a schedule where family member(s) will call in the morning, at lunchtime and again in the evening. It’s important to check in often. Plus, hearing a loved one’s voice – even for a few minutes – can create a special bond for both the senior and the family member.

Rick Weisberg is president of Assisted Living Nationwide, a firm that helps seniors and their families find the most appropriate assisted living facilty, based on the family’s criteria, free of charge. Contact Rick at rick@assistedlivingnationwide.com.

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