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6 Essential Steps to Take When Your Parents Need Assisted Living

By Haines EasonJuly 3, 2021
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Many families look to assisted living communities to provide essential care and peace of mind for aging parents. However, finding the right senior living community is a journey and requires matching your parents’ needs, lifestyle, and budget with locations in their desired area. The process is easiest and results in success most often when all parties involved prepare, ask the right questions, and participate in frank, open conversations.

The search for assisted living usually begins when an elderly person needs more help than a caregiver can provide. If you’re noticing signs your parents need help, you have options. Take these six steps to learn more about assisted living and find the right fit for your parents.

1. Have a conversation with your family

The decision to relocate to an assisted living community is a big one, and it’s one your parents should be involved in for the move to be successful. The earlier you get everyone on the same page, the better the final result will be.

  • Be honest about your capacity to provide care. It’s important to acknowledge your own needs and communicate them to others. Caregiving is a challenging job and shouldn’t be performed indefinitely without support.
  • Work to settle any disagreements. If other family members may be affected by the decision to move your parents into a community, it’s a good idea to involve them, too. Securing family members’ support can help smooth the transition and reduce your burden. And, by inviting their input, you may come up with solutions you might not otherwise have considered.
  • Remember that you can’t force your parents to listen to you. If your parents are in denial about their need for care, pick a quiet moment and share your observations, concerns, and feelings. Listen to your parents, and write down their apprehensions and preferences.
  • Consider using a professional mediator. Elder mediators help senior loved ones and relatives come to a mutual understanding about each person’s concerns. Their goal is to give everyone a voice in a safe and constructive environment.

Feel supported and prepared to discuss senior living
All our advice, all in one place. Reference this step-by-step resource for help starting a productive dialogue, getting your family on the same page, and considering next steps.
Download the conversation guide >

2. Understand how assisted living can help

Big changes can result in significant stress, especially when the person experiencing the change is elderly. When considering a new home for your parents, review the steps outlined in these articles:

  • Evaluate your loved one’s needs. Start with an assessment of their activities of daily living, or ADLs. Can they bathe, dress, and move about easily? How much help do they already require?
  • Read up on what assisted living offers. The phrase “assisted living” encompasses far more than people realize, but it’s not the same as nursing homes or memory care — two different community types with more daily involvement and specialized care than what’s usually offered in assisted living.
  • Consider the potential benefits. Assisted living communities have evolved with the times. Many are rich with current amenities and activities while maintaining a level of care that allows your loved one to stay safe and healthy.
  • Talk to a Senior Living Advisor. A Place for Mom’s Senior Living Advisors are experts in your local area, and their services are free. With plenty of experience connecting families to all levels of care, they can provide personalized advice and recommendations based on your unique needs.

3. Make a plan for how to pay for care

Cost can be an even more important factor than fit when you’re looking for senior living options. Determine the kind of care you might need, then assess what your family can afford on a monthly basis. From there, look for assisted living communities that match your budget. Some people have savings or long-term care insurance to help pay for senior living, while many must explore other avenues.

  • Talk to your parents about their finances. The best transition plans start from open, supportive conversations about key factors in the move. Given the high costs of senior living, finances should be discussed as soon as possible to avoid surprises and reduce stress.
  • Understand assisted living prices and costs. Does your loved one need an all-inclusive experience or just help with some ADLs? Your answer will determine the ultimate price of senior living. The median monthly cost of an assisted living community in the U.S. is $4,300 — or $51,600 a year — but costs vary greatly depending on where you live.
  • Know your options for paying for care. Most families use private funds to cover the cost of senior care, but private health insurance, Medicare, and VA benefits may also support some or all of the cost.

4. Visit or virtually tour a senior living community

No amount of time spent pouring over brochures, photos, reviews, or floor plans can substitute for a trip through an assisted living community — whether in person or via video. Plan to tour at least three communities on your short-list. Additionally, we recommend that you:

  • Schedule visits for you and your parent, and try to tour during mealtimes. To make sure you choose the most suitable community, you should interact with staff, meet other residents, and sample the cuisine.
  • Take a wide-ranging tour to get a good feel for the environment and culture of the community. Participate in an activity, tour the available lodging options, and observe the grounds.
  • Schedule follow-up visits and use our community touring checklist to ask crucial questions and take thorough notes. We suggest visiting or virtually touring a promising community more than once, if possible. Our Senior Living Advisors can help you schedule as many visits as you feel you or your loved one needs.

Feel confident and ready to tour communities
A Place for Mom’s downloadable guide makes space for all your observations and notes and identifies important questions to ask. It’s our simple, step-by-step resource for comparing communities and finding the right fit.
Download the assisted living touring checklist >

5. Consult a variety of sources to find the best assisted living community

When making a decision, talk to people in the know to learn as much as you can. Remember: You can always contact your Senior Living Advisor during the decision-making process to get their input on the communities you’re considering.

Talk with a Senior Living Advisor

Our advisors help 300,000 families each year find the right senior care for their loved ones.

6. Prepare for the transition to senior living

Don’t delay the move. It’s risky to procrastinate — especially when an elderly parent needs care. Putting things off can lead to avoidable accidents and medical problems. When preparing for a move, it’s important to complete these steps:

  • Consolidate possessions. Is your loved one downsizing? See if you can help them sell or donate any items.
  • Carefully plan and coordinate the move. Are you hiring a company or moving your parents on your own? Set up a plan that makes the move go smoothly and minimizes stress.
  • Gather and manage legal documents. Locate medical documents, tax returns, or any important information your parents may need. Make sure all documents are in a safe but quickly accessible place so they’re not lost or misplaced during the move.

Whether your parents are choosing a community themselves or you’re helping them make a decision, the above steps should help ensure everyone in your family feels good about the change. Remember: Compassion is key, so have frequent conversations with your parents where you collectively discuss the pros and cons of each community, and always strive to come to consensus together.

Haines Eason

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