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Thursday, March 14, 2019

Assisted Living – Part I: What is Assisted Living and how do I decide if it is the right move for me or my loved one?

In our previous blog on February 25th, we addressed how to “Age in Place” and how to safely remain at home during retirement and as one ages.  However, for many older adults, advancing age means they will face a time when living alone is no longer feasible.  Certain aspects of daily living become more challenging, and finding that you need assistance to do things like caring for your home and yourself, may mean that it is time to consider moving into an assisted living facility. 

            What does assisted living mean?  Depending on the state and the individual facility, assisted living can mean different things and it may go by other names, but the concept of assisted living is simply that:  Older adults move to a facility where they can receive assistance with the daily tasks of living.  Assisted living facilities offer some level of care or assistance to older adults who are unable to manage these tasks of living on their own, such as cooking, bathing or toileting.

            Assisted living residents usually live in their own apartments or rooms and share common areas.  They can provide supervision and security to ensure that a loved one will have access to immediate help in a medical situation or is less likely to wander off.  The services offered at individual facilities can vary greatly.  Some of the services can include; group classes and social outings, dining and meal services, personal care services, housekeeping and living space maintenance, medication management, and transportation.

            Below we provide five strategies for talking about and determining whether assisted living is the right move for this chapter of a loved one’s life. 

  1. Begin discussing this transition early.Having the conversation before a health emergency occurs can afford you and your loved one the opportunity to methodically discuss plans to tackle a host of issues, like downsizing and getting rid of extra possessions, figuring out finances and gathering medical records.If you discuss this next phase of life early, you or your loved one’s wishes will be respected by having a plan in place.Often, when this decision is made when a medical emergency arises, decisions are made relatively quickly and they may or may not align with your loved one’s wishes.
  2. Look for an organic window of opportunity.Opting for a natural opportunity to raise the idea rather than bringing up the idea of transitioning to an assisted living community out of nowhere can often allay the anxiety and fears of losing independence, leaving their home, or having to give up items or activities that they enjoy.Discussing their present and past daily activities, what they miss being able to do in years past, and what daily tasks they would like help with now may open the door for the conversation about what services, social aspects and amenities an assisted living community could offer. Sparking the conversation after a minor event like a non-major fall or a time when they weren’t able to get the immediate support that they needed, may also be a way to help ease into the idea or discussion.
  3. Listen carefully to your loved one’s concerns.Try not to minimize your loved ones anxieties about the prospect of making the transition from being on their own to moving into an assisted living facility.Acknowledge and offer understanding that your loved one is fearful about the life change of moving into an assisted living community, and offer understanding about their trepidation.Listening and asking lots of questions, makes this approach clear that you want to follow their wishes and address their concerns.
  4. Don’t issue orders.Unless he or she is mentally incapacitated, your loved one gets to decide where and how to live.Issuing orders or ultimatums attacks your loved one’s sense of agency and could make him or her feel dishonored or defensive.
  5. Let your loved one see what assisted living looks like.Ask if they are willing to tour an assisted living facility or go visit a friend or family member who is already enjoying the benefits of a facility.Visiting an assisted living community could ease some of your loved one’s anxieties.Use the facilities staff as a resource to help with the difficult questions or discussions.Most facilities want to partner with the person and family in this process to ensure that their facility is a right fit.

Researching, learning, discussing, and deciding about whether moving to an assisted living facility is right for you or your loved one is a process, not an event; you will want to have multiple discussions to review you or your loved one’s daily task needs, health care needs, what services they desire for a facility to provide, and the financial aspect of making this change into the next chapter of life. 

Keep watch for “Assisted Living – Part II: Questions to ask when selecting a facility and the financial aspect of living in an assisted living community,” which will post to our website and Facebook page the week of April 1st. 

If you would like more information on assisted living facilities and to begin your discussion for planning for this next phase of life, please feel free to contact our office to begin our intake process and schedule a time to speak with one of our experienced and knowledgeable attorneys.


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