Many emotions are involved when moving a loved one into a senior living community, says Kathleen Leonard, a Senior Living Advisor at A Place for Mom and former director of an independent living community. “It can be an overwhelming process,” she says.
Families may also feel a little nervous entrusting their loved one’s care to new caregivers. The keys to ensuring your loved one is well cared for? Understanding the senior care plan, working with the community, and using good communication, says Leonard.
Learn more about senior care plans for elderly parents and how to effectively monitor your loved one’s care, whether you live nearby or thousands of miles away.
The process varies in each community, but a care plan is often created in a collaborative effort. Planning for elderly parents care typically involves several evaluations:
A care plan and pricing are discussed and put in place based on these evaluations. However, it’s common for communities to closely monitor care in the first 30 days and reassess the care plan at the end of that period.
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Once a senior care plan is put into place, you’ll need to check in with your loved one and the senior living community. Here are five ways to remain proactive with elder care:
It’s important for families and communities to have consistent communication, says Leonard. Equally important is for both parties to be aware of expectations early on to avoid miscommunication.
Ask when and how often the community will provide updates. Establish a balanced schedule or communication plan for care updates.
If possible, visit regularly or participate in community events. Whether you’re able to help with activities, join for lunch, or socialize with residents and staff, these moments provide an easy and effective way to remain present and part of their life and care.
Many families are unable to visit in person. Instead, they arrange times to call or FaceTime the care staff, management teams, and their aging parent. This goes both ways, too. For example, if abnormal behavior is happening, or if medication isn’t working, staff should call to inform the family and find a solution.
Let key staff members at your loved one’s community know it’s important to you to be aware of your parent’s care. Talk about the best ways and times to reach you. Discuss the kinds of situations where you’d definitely want to be notified versus the scenarios where staff would use their own judgment.
“Caregivers can come and go. Some communities have solid staffing, but it’s normal to have some inconsistencies,” says Leonard. “When changes in staff occur, tell the supervisor you want to be kept in the loop.”
Ideally, families think of and treat their loved one’s caregivers like an extended member of the family, according to Leonard. Building a relationship like that takes time and trust, but putting forth the effort and care will help you stay up-to-date on your parent’s health and well-being.
Although it may sound simple and straightforward, it’s important to listen to your parents’ experiences, Leonard says.
If they tell you they haven’t received their medication, regular bath, or any service you’re paying for, don’t ignore it. Take their experiences seriously, investigate it, and work to find solutions to make sure they’re receiving the care they need.
Merritt Whitely is an editor at A Place for Mom. She developed health content for seniors at Hearing Charities of America and the National Hearing Aid Project. She’s also managed multiple print publications, blogs, and social media channels for seniors as the marketing manager at Sertoma, Inc.