KNOWING WHEN IT’S TIME TO MOVE
The decision to move a loved one into a senior care facility can be a very emotional and stressful decision. “While there is great talk about “aging in place” or staying in the home as long as possible, the truth is that there are not enough care-givers, paid or unpaid, to serve all the folks who need assistance of some form or another,” says R. Steven Johnston BSJ, MCM, former owner of a Home Instead Senior Care franchise in Columbus, Ohio. The following is a guide to help you decide if it’s time to consider assisted living or another senior care option for an aging parent or loved one, as well as next steps when you are ready to move forward.
SAFETY BECOMES A CONCERN
With the risks of a forgotten flame or a bathroom slip, safety is of paramount importance when considering care. “The clear, number-one sign is safety of the senior,” says Johnston. “When it becomes apparent they can no longer live safely at home, it is time to move on.”
CONFUSION BECOMES COMMONPLACE
Confusion is a common problem with seniors suffering from dementia. Bouts of confusion can be brought on suddenly by infections such as urinary tract infections (UTIs), an injury, or a stroke. Confusion resulting from these typically clears up when treated. But other instances of confusion that may stem from dementia and a decline in health and should be taken as a serious sign that care is needed.
HEALTH ISSUES REQUIRE REGULAR ATTENTION
Whether your loved one has a chronic illness that needs daily management, is getting frequently injured, is struggling with mental health issues or if are recovering from surgery, it’s critical to take these things into consideration when deciding if a senior care facility is needed, according to Johnston. If a loved one’s care needs aren’t getting met despite the efforts of others, it’s time.
HOME CARE BECOMES A CHALLENGE
MEMORY LOSS BECOMES MORE FREQUENT
Memory loss can range from the relatively benign aspect of losing track of where things are kept — which can sometimes be addressed by memory-boosting activities— to the more concerning issue of forgetting hygiene routines. The severity of the memory loss should be an indication of what the senior care needs are and should be seen as a factor, if not the only one, in assessing care needs. Not all instances ofmemory loss indicate dementia but should be assessed by a doctor.
CAREGIVER SAFETY BECOMES A CONCERN
THERE’S AN INCREASE IN AGGRESSIVE BEHAVIOR
Aggression, both physical and mental, and severe agitation can begin to happen with dementia. This specific problem can start to occur in the late afternoon and evening hours and is calledSundowners Syndrome. Because the risk of aggression can be result in violent episodes and harm to either caregivers or the elderly person, this is not a problem that can be overlooked.
CAREGIVER STRESS BECOMES AN ISSUE
It can become an incredible amount of physical and emotional stress helping a loved one age. When it comes to the point that a person is overstressed, it’s disrupting life and family life, or care is causing anxiety, depression, or frustration, the cause could be caregiver burnout. These are all signs it’s time to find a facility to better help a senior age, even if the transition is challenging.
OUT-OF-CONTROL SPENDING IS A CONCERN
Spending money without knowing or remembering it goes along can often arise with memory loss. Donating to the same charity over and over, falling for money scams — especially scams that specifically target seniors — or not remembering to pay bills can all be issues that can result in a higher level of senior care needs. This problem can also snowball into home insecurity if funds meant to pay bills are misspent, and can make a senior a target of those who might wish to take advantage of loosened purse strings.
WANDERING BECOMES COMMONPLACE
In people with dementia, wandering due to disorientation is a risk. Even if the caregiver steps away for a second to use the restroom or do a simple chore, the person with dementia can easily wander and get lost or hurt.
ADDRESSING MOBILITY ISSUES AT HOME BECOMES COSTLY
Homes can be modified to account for mobility issues and there are many therapy options that can help a senior get around at home. But at a certain point the cost of modifications and therapies add up, and it’s a much better solution for a senior to be in a facility that is set up to meet their mobility needs.
DAILY ROUTINES BECOME CHALLENGING
A loved one may start having trouble managing activities of daily living (ADL). This can be a sign that assisted living might be a good option. ”Individuals should consider assisted living if the are unable to independently handle any three of the following ADLs: dressing, toileting, medication administration, ambulation, transferring from bed to chair, and ability to feed yourself,” retirement facility expert R. Steven Johnston says.
THE COSTS OF HOME CARE BECOME A BURDEN
The cost of senior care at home can become financially challenging for many people. A home health aide can cost roughly$22 an hour or $528 a day if needed around the clock, according to a recent cost of care survey by the insurance company Genworth. If you simply can’t afford this, then it’s time to start looking for a senior care facility. While Medicare does not cover assisted living, it may still be a cheaper option than paying for a home health aide. The average cost of assisted living is $4,000 a month or $48,000 a year.
BE AWARE OF TAX ISSUES
You can probably find an aide for less than $22 an hour, but retirement facility expert R. Steven Johnston warns against this. “Trying to hire someone directly and not paying payroll taxes could be the most expensive move ever,” he says. “The big concern should be workers compensation if the hired help is injured on the job somehow. They could sue and end up owning the house or all the savings the resident has. It is worth it to pay the taxes, and issue the correct tax forms, or use a firm like Home Instead Senior Care which performs those functions as well as scheduling, training and supervising the caregivers.”
The best case scenario is that you’ve already worked out a plan for your loved one before the need arises, but often times that isn’t the case. If your loved one is able or you are the senior and making the decision on your own, retirement facility expert R. Steven Johnston recommends taking a tour of several facilities, have a meal, maybe even stay the night and really get a feel for what it would be like to be a resident. As the caregiver, there are a variety of important factors to consider when researching assisted living and other senior care options. Among the many considerations, you should be aware of how far of a drive it would be from you to the facility, check the facility’s Medicare scores, observe the cleanliness and care provided by the staff, look at the range of services offered, and talk to current residents about the food and the overall care they receive.