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  What is Assisted Living?
  Choosing Assisted Living
  Benefits of Placement Services
  Seniors and Kids
  Checklist for a Visit
  When Is It Time for Assisted Living
  Costs of Assisted Living
  Veteran's Benefits
  Deciding on Assisted Living
  Caring For Aging Parents
  How To Know When It's Time For Assisted Living
  Not A Nursing Home



Caring for Aging Parents

As our parents get older, there may come a time when you, their son or daughter, find that your assistance is needed to ensure their well-being. It may not be what you wanted, or what they wanted either, but that's just the way it is.


Assisted living is an exciting option for seniors who need some help with activities of daily living yet want to retain as much independence and privacy as possible.

Meals, laundry and housekeep are standard as are a variety of activities and outings.

Assisted living facilities are licensed and regulated by individual states, which explains why there can be differences in terminolgy and services in different areas of the country.

Helping an aging parent makes us realize or own mortality, but that's another matter. The task at hand is to provide the best for our parents just as they did for us when we were young. This is a many-faceted task, and can easily bewilder even those of us who think we are prepared.

As a way of evaluating your own personal situation, I have provided a general guideline of items to be considered. It is usually not necessary to assist in all areas at once unless your parent has had a sudden health issue that makes your involvement immediate. Usually, it's easier to get involved a little at a time. It's easier on you and I believe it's easier for them.


Medical Care

Is your parent able to get to medical appointments independently? Can they drive or use public transportation safely? When they get to the appointment, are they able to communicate effectively to the doctor or health professional? When they are given instructions, are the able to understand these instructions and follow the prescribed treatment? Are the able to hear the doctor or health professional?

If the answer to one or more of these questions is "no", it could be time to ask if you can accompany them on their appointments. I think all of us can benefit from another pair of ears in the room as we are learning about our medical conditions and the related treatments.


Is you parent still driving? If so, have you ridden with them and do you consider their driving to be safe? If they don't drive, are they able to use public transportation? If this is a little more than they can manage, you may need to get involved by providing transportation for medical appointments, grocery shopping, church services, etc.

Healthy Eating

Is your parent able to shop for groceries and prepare nutritious meals? Do they remember to refrigerate food that requires refrigeration? Have you checked their refrigerator to ensure that none of their food is spoiled or outdated? Remember, their generation was taught not to waste anything, and they are often reluctant to destroy any food that might be beyond it's safe shelf life.
Is their diet balanced, with protein, vitamins and minerals? If they have special needs, like a heart condition or diabetes, are they limiting saturated fats and/or sugars?


Is your parent able to keep prescription medications ordered in a timely manner? Are they able to take the appropriate dose at the correct time? Do any of their medications have special instructions that need to be followed? If any of these are a concern, it might be time to begin to be involved.


Your your parent able to get the appropriate exercise for their condition? Even those who have illnesses or special conditions are advised to have a modified exercise program. Their doctor should be able to advise what is best. Most seniors don't like to exercise alone, it just isn't any fun at all. Maybe they would like it better if you could join them in the program.


Religious beliefs are an important part of anyone's life and advanced years is no reason to abandon them. In fact, for many seniors, adhering to their religious beliefs is what life is all about. Regardless of our personal beliefs, our parents are greatly benefited if they are able to continue to practice their own religious beliefs. Are they able to attend services and observe cultural customs associated with their beliefs? If not, do they need help in finding outreach program that will help satisfy this need?


Are they able to effectively manage their assets for their own well-being? Can they still balance a checkbook? Can they manage cash? Can they say "no" to solicitors or even well-meaning relatives who are asking for a loan or a gift? Protecting assets to ensure that a senior's needs are met is not an easy job. At some point, they may need assistance.


Is your parent able to keep their home safe and clean? Are their danger in the home? Are they vulnerable to anyone who might want to take advantage of them?


Is your parent alone most of the time, or are they interacting with others regularly? Are they excessively lonely? Are they isolated or depressed? This is often a concern that is not easily addressed.


This is the big one. Do your parents need assistance with so many of the items listed above in addition to other needs that are not addressed here, they might need help with housing. There are many options for housing, and it's a huge decision to make. I will present some of the most common alternatives for consideration.

Can they hire help in home? It could be any kind of help ranging from light housekeeping to a full-care personal assistant. Can they afford the expense and are the able to manage the help? Will they be able to check references and ensure that the help is qualified and reliable?

Can they live with a family member? Would this work for them? Would this work for the rest of the family? Remember, each has our own varying needs for privacy and independence, so give careful consideration to this option.

Could they consider a move to assisted living? This comes in many forms, from homes that hire help to assist 3 - 6 residents all the way to facilities that have hundreds of residents. The services run the gamut, as do the charges for these services. Medical insurance usually does not help with these expenses. Long term care insurance might cover much of the cost.

Assisted living is usually for those who get along pretty well, but require assistance in one or more of the areas mentioned above. The fees are often on a sliding scale, where those who receive more services pay a little more. The assisted living facilities that I have encountered address all of the needs mentioned here. Residents are free to live independently in an environment that makes available all that they need for their safety and well-being.

This is not a decision that is made easily. Much research is needed to find appropriate housing and make this very important decision.

Learn as much as you can about all the senior housing options that are available in your area. Everything you read and each facility you visit will help you to get closer to determining your own need. There are adult family homes, retirement communities, board and care homes, assisted living facilities, skilled nursing facilities and other options. With all these options, and maybe because there are so many choices, it can be overwhelming. There's nothing wrong with getting help.

A few of the services offered by assisted living placement services are:
1) Determining if Assisted Living is Right for You
2) Determining the level of care needed
3) Locating the home or facility best suited to your needs
4) Helping you to negotiate the lowest possible price for you and your family
5) Helping you with finanacial planning so that your resources can be used wisely to cover the costs involved
6) Ensuring that the facility you choose is able to handle any special needs that you may have.

There are a number of placement agencies that will be more than happy to help you sort through the maze and make the best choice for your loved one. This is their field of expertise and they are happy to share the knowledge they've gathered with you. A few of our favorites are A Place For Mom, Elderlink, and Assisted Living. In Southern California and Southern Arizona, one of our favorites is Assisted Living Placements. Most referral agencies (also called placement agencies) will provide their services free of charge.