Being a family caregiver under any circumstances is a difficult job. If you are a remote caregiver, you have even more challenges because you must make sure your loved one is happy and well without being able to check-in personally. If you are a long-distance caregiver of a senior loved one who is no longer able to manage independently, here are a few reasons why a senior living facility might be the right choice for your family.
- Your Loved One May Need More Care
Even from afar, you can often tell when your senior loved one no longer can live independently — but you must be aware of the signs. Escalating care needs is one of the most pressing reasons to consider moving your loved one to a senior living facility. She may have more health problems, and she may need more assistance with medication or activities of daily living. If you notice that she is more unkempt, pale, or agitated, she may be struggling to care for herself. Stay in close contact with her healthcare providers and determine whether her health is at risk if she remains alone.
Another major concern is her safety. If she exhibits symptoms of dementia or Alzheimer’s, she may no longer be safe living on her own. Loved ones with dementia may wander, leave a stove on, or take medication more often than prescribed. If neighbors contact you out of concern for your loved one’s safety or well-being, it’s time to reassess her current living arrangements.
- Senior Living Facilities Assist with Activities of Daily Living
One way of knowing whether it is time to move your loved one to a senior living facility is if she struggles with activities of daily living (ADLs) or instrumental activities of daily living (IADLs). These basic tasks include feeding, toileting, grooming, bathing, and walking. IADLs are more complex and include managing finances, handling transportation, shopping, preparing meals, using the phone, managing medication, and completing basic housework.
Doctors and healthcare professionals often evaluate how many of these ADLs and IADLs patients struggle with before they recommend additional care. Assisted living facility staff typically provide two hours of assistance with ADLs each day per resident. Most also have caregivers on hand around-the-clock to assist with personal care activities, and you can ensure your loved one is on a schedule for routine personal care each day. Facilities also commonly have an on-site pharmacy, physical therapy facility, and salon to provide more services to your loved one, and staff members schedule and coordinate appointments.
- Staff Members Assist in the Transition
Once you decide that the move to senior living is necessary, you do not have to handle the transition on your own. A senior care adviser can help you budget for your loved one’s move and may suggest renting her home rather than selling it to have a source of revenue, using Medicare, or putting her in a shared room to save on her cost of care. Your loved one’s doctor and assisted living staff should work with you as a team to set-up a smooth, successful transition.
You should take some time off and help your loved one prepare to move. She’ll need to downsize significantly, and it will be both tedious and emotionally challenging to sort through her items. Help her determine what to keep and what to sell, donate, or give to family. The transition often is easier if the senior has a chance to tell stories and give items to loved ones, so encourage her to reminisce as you pack and arrange for other friends and family to stop by. Then, help her get settled by decorating her new home with her favorite items and photos. Encourage her to participate in the facility’s activities, such as games and fitness groups, and to make friends by eating in common areas.
It isn’t a simple decision to move your loved one into senior living, so make it with care and do what you can to ease the transition. With time, she will be enjoying a happier, healthier life, and you’ll be resting much easier — even from afar.
Written By Guest Blogger Marie Villeza
Marie Villeza is passionate about connecting seniors with the resources they need to live happy, healthy lives. She developed ElderImpact.org to provide seniors and their caregivers with resources and advice.