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When to Move to Assisted Living? Advice From a Social Worker

when should a senior move to assisted living

An experienced social worker shares advice on when someone needs assisted living

One of the toughest choices a caregiver has to make is the decision to move their older adult to assisted living.

Even thinking about it can make someone feel terribly guilty, especially when they’ve promised to never put their older adult in a nursing home.

But keeping that promise isn’t always realistic.

Safety concerns, serious health issues, and specialized care needs are the top reasons to consider assisted living.

To help you make this difficult decision, we asked experienced social worker Florence Marchick for advice.

She’s worked with aging adults and their families for over 24 years, so she’s had experience counseling many families as they figure out which choice works best for their older adult.

We share Florence’s 3 top questions that will help you decide if moving to assisted living is the right choice at this time.

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3 top questions help you decide on a move to assisted living

It’s difficult to make a decision when there are so many conflicting thoughts and emotions clouding your thoughts.

To make it easier to answer the question “when does someone need assisted living?,” Florence’s advice is to focus on the most important considerations by asking these 3 questions.

1. Is it increasingly difficult or unsafe to provide hands-on care for your older adult? What started out as a manageable job could have slowly turned into something that one person can’t handle alone.

The changes can creep up on you, so now is the time to take a fresh, honest look at your situation.

For example, if your older adult has become completely incontinent, it could be too much to handle at home.

Or, their aggressive behavior might not be responding to non-drug techniques or medications, putting everyone’s safety at risk.

In some cases, if your older adult needs significant help moving around, assisting them on your own could be dangerous, especially if you’re smaller in size. They could fall or you could get seriously injured.

2. Does your older adult need specialized care? If your older adult’s medical condition now requires specialized medical care or 24/7 supervision, you probably won’t be able to provide that care.

You’re not a medical professional and it’s simply impossible for one person to be on duty 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

For example, if your older adult’s dementia causes them to wander constantly (even at night), consider a memory care community where trained staff and a specially-designed environment can keep them safe at all hours.

Or, if your older adult is bedridden and needs careful repositioning every hour to prevent bed sores, 24/7 care at an assisted living community is a good option.

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3. Do you feel resentful, emotionally drained, or chronically tired? Caregiver stress and burnout is a very real thing. It negatively affects your quality of life today and your overall health in the long term.

Have you started hating your older adult, feeling overwhelming resentment, not liking who you’ve become, or disliking your own behavior?

Those are all signs that it’s time to make a change.

If you’re in such a negative place, it’s not possible to care for your older adult in the calm and positive manner they need.

Consider the benefits of assisted living

Most people say they want to stay in their homes as they age, but it’s not always possible.

For the right situation, assisted living facilities or residential care homes can improve the quality of life for your older adult and you.

In addition to a safer environment and higher level of care, your older adult will have the chance to be more social and interact with other people.

You’ll also be able to go back to being their companion and advocate rather than being focused on their physical care.

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Florence Marchick has a Master’s in Social Work and has been working in the field since 1978. For over 24 years, she had worked with older adults. Before her retirement, she was the social worker at Rosener House Adult Day Services program in Menlo Park. This included working with families during the enrollment process, family counseling, and running several support groups for caregivers. Rosener House offers an enriched therapeutic day program in a caring protective environment. Rosener House promotes independence and dignity for aging adults facing challenges and limitations, including Alzheimer’s, dementia, early memory loss, mild cognitive impairment, stroke, Parkinson’s, and other chronic conditions.

By DailyCaring Editorial Team Image: Residential Healthcare Group

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