Family on beach - When is it time for Assisted Living

Teach your children well, their father’s hell did slowly go by. And feed them on your dreams, the one they pick’s the one you’ll know by. –Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young

It is likely that teaching your children never ends. As long as you are on earth, you are guiding them, including through your wishes for your care and living situation as you age. The dynamic within every family is unique; there are trials and heartaches, joys and loyalties. John Spence said that you should, “Love and appreciate your parents. We are often so busy growing up; we forget they are also growing old”.

When is it Time for Assisted Living and Having “The Talk”

You may see your parents and children often, with frequent family celebrations. Or, depending upon the circumstances in your family, time and physical distance may have created a space where personal and difficult conversations feel off-limits and almost impossible to approach. Despite your potential discomfort, there will likely be a day when you and your parents or other elderly family member (or perhaps you and your children) need to have a discussion about what comes next. If you are questioning if or when is it time to have “the talk” about assisted living, likely that time has already passed. Perhaps there were some “signs” that something should be done and they were missed or not acted upon. Maybe you or your loved one is now in the hospital after a fall or medication error, and she will not be able to return to living on her own. And you realize you really did miss your opportunity to discuss future options before you were in crisis mode. If you are lucky, you are reading this in advance of any major challenge and are able to think toward the future with some new guidance.

Ask yourself:

  • How have difficult conversations been handled in our family in the past?
  • Who are the gatekeepers of information and ultimate decision makers in our family?
  • And, if you could go back in time, how would you plan differently?

There is a good chance that however your family has handled challenge and crisis in the past will weigh on your collective ability to make a decision now or in the future. Whoever is the keeper of information and whoever is the ultimate decision maker, they both need to be in on any conversations from the start, so let them help in the planning. And of course, if you are looking forward, you may wish to make some different plans starting now.

Teach Your Children Well

If you are aging (that’s all of us!) or if you are caring for an aging family member: get your affairs in order. Doing this in advance prevents your family from feeling an extraordinary burden during a crisis; the crisis itself is enough with which to deal.

  • Make sure you have advance directives in place (both medical and financial Power of Attorney), as well as a living will. Have a “What If” meeting to discuss your choices with your family so they know what to expect. Provide copies to the individuals named as your Power of Attorney(s).
  • Keep your financial affairs organized so that your Power of Attorney can step in if, and when, needed. This should include a list of any income and resources, as well as, the phone number for your financial planner.
  • If you have not already done so, draw up a will.
  • Create a file that holds all of these important documents in one place and make sure that your loved ones and Power of Attorney know where to find it.
  • Find the experts in your community to begin the process of having an assessment of your physical and mental well-being, and meet with them to get an understanding of how things are currently going. Be honest about what your needs and wants are physically, medically, socially, financially and geographically.
  • Stay as healthy as possible, physically AND mentally. Look after yourself and listen to your doctor. If you can prevent an ailment, wouldn’t you rather not have to deal with it?
  • Understand that you cannot control everything. This one may be very difficult. Things will happen that you cannot predict or prevent. You will have to find a way to deal with them in the moment.
Love Can Build A Bridge

Between Your Heart and Mine

At Aging at 5280, one of our experts is Elder Care Manager Karen Summers. In her 25-plus years of experience in the senior industry, Karen has helped hundreds of families navigate and advocate for their loved one. With a background in Social Work and Case Management, Karen is able to help families customize plans that meet everyone’s needs. At a time when families often feel overwhelmed, having a knowledgeable and kind person to hold your hand en route can make all the difference in finding the right placement, care, and environment. While Karen has been able to help so many find positive resolution, her years of experience are a warning to those who have avoided “the talk” when it was time for assisted living. She can tell of clients who were no longer able to navigate their homes and became forced to live in an upstairs bedroom with little help, or of still others who became completely different people due to the fear stemming from a shocking diagnosis.

Perhaps you are familiar with the lyrics made famous by the Judds: Love can build a bridge, between your heart and mine. In loving an aging family member, there is a lot of emotion, because it is all personal. It is someone’s life. While your love builds the bridges within your family, when it is time for assisted living, we will guide you in crossing the bridges to the appropriate care within your community.

Source: Preparing to Age

If you, a family member or friends are in need of support for healthy aging, contact us, we are here to guide you in navigating your roadmap to aging well.

Cindy Koch

Cindy Koch, MA

Certified Placement & Referral Specialist (CPRS) | Owner

Aging at 5280 is here to help elders and their families navigate through the healthcare system and customize a plan to meet their needs.