Wednesday, May 16, 2012

On the Fence About Assisted Living? Answer These 40 Questions Now

The Assisted Living decision is a difficult one. There are many contributing factors: physical health, emotional health, safety, activities of daily living, financial and home management. Making the most of life is the primary goal. As a friend explained, "My husband is going to be 80. We're moving in [to a high-rise] while we can still enjoy it."

Years ago, older adults stayed with their families or moved to nursing homes. Today, they move to facilities with support services.

Eliott E. Levy discusses this lifestyle in his paper, "When to Put a Parent in Assisted Living or a Nursing Home," published in the Journal of Behavioral Studies in Business. A fall or stroke can change a loved one's life dramatically, Levy notes. My father-in-law had both. He had a mini stroke, fell down, and was unconscious for an unknown period of time.

Dad kept saying he was okay, but he wasn't. As the months passed, the effects of his stroke spread. Family members were worried sick about him living alone. You may be concerned about a loved one. These questions come from my experience of helping my mother and father-in-law move to Assisted Living. Put a check by the ones you have observed.

Physical and Emotional Health

  • Can he or she be trusted to take medications correctly?
  • Is the person physically active or sedentary?
  • Does he or she eat a balanced diet?
  • Does the person rely on high-salt, high-fat frozen food?
  • Is the refrigerator stocked with spoiled food?
  • Do you think he or she is a safe driver?
  • Is he or she living in isolation?
  • Does the person look and act depressed?
  • Has alcohol become a problem?
  • Is the person lacking "common sense"?

Safety

  • Is the home in a safe neighborhood?
  • Did the person leave a boiling pan on the stove?
  • Did he or she forget to turn off the oven?
  • Are home traffic patterns clear of clutter?
  • Does he or she lost things constantly?
  • Have you noticed any bruises from falls?
  • Are doors and windows unlocked at night?
  • Has the person become forgetful?
  • Has he or she been found wandering?
  • Can the person still tell time accurately?

Activities of Daily Living

  • Does the person forget to comb his or her hair?
  • Is the person wearing dirty, stained clothes?
  • Can he or she still cook?
  • Are dirty dishes piling up in the sink?
  • Can the person still do laundry?
  • How often does he or she do laundry?
  • Is the refrigerator empty?
  • Does the home get cleaned regularly?
  • Have you seen roaches or mice?
  • Did he or she throw out a hearing aid or aids?

Financial and Home Management

  • Are unpaid bills piling up?
  • Has the person received a warning notice about unpaid bills?
  • Can the person still write checks or pay online?
  • Has the person's name been referred to a collection agency?
  • Does he or she buy clothes that fit? (My mother wore size 18, but kept buying size 8.)
  • Is the person spending money he or she doesn't have?
  • Has the home fallen into disrepair?
  • Does the person give away money or items impulsively?
  • Is the person addicted to the lottery or gambling?
  • Would the person fall for a scam?

Add more questions to this list if you think of them. How many checks do you see? If there are lots of them, it's time to move into housing that offers support.

Copyright 2012 by Harriet Hodgson

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