During the holiday season, our lives often seem to be on fast-forward as we prepare either to host a gathering or travel great distances to see loved ones.
However, in the midst of all of this hustle and bustle, many of us discover that our aging parents are in need of more care. The holiday season is one of the most common times when families discover that one or more parents need increasing assistance with daily activities. Maybe they are struggling to maintain their home, accomplishing daily tasks and chores, consistently preparing healthy meals, or just suffering from increased isolation and loneliness as friends pass on or are harder to visit. Or, perhaps you’re noticing some signs of memory loss. All of these scenarios should trigger a discussion and consideration of how to maintain your loved one’s quality of life.
One of the best first steps in understanding options for an exceptional senior lifestyle, as the need for care increases, is by touring some of your local assisted living or memory care communities.
Visiting and touring assisted living or memory care communities may seem like the last item to add to an already overwhelming schedule this time of year. Yet, visiting senior living communities in 2020 is the absolute best time to schedule a tour.
- Assisted living communities are festive and fun during the holiday season. If you’re just beginning to consider or understand the assisted living or memory care community experience, this time of the year is ideal. There are often fewer tours being scheduled, so you’ll get a lot of attention, and the communities are typically buzzing with activity and beautifully decorated. For example, at The Kensington Falls Church our life enrichment program, while always exceptional, is simply full to overflowing during the holidays, with events such as a shopping bazaar, restaurant outings, art exhibits, and a New Year’s Eve opera! Our always superb meals include holiday touches created by Chef Samir and his skilled team, who encourage families to dine with their loved ones often, just as they would if their loved ones still lived at home.
- Your loved one may be ready to relocate. The holidays are when many of us get the time to travel to or catch up with our aging loved ones. Often, it is at this moment, when we slow down and really spend time visiting or visit after an extended absence, that we discover our loved one needs more care. But, more often than not, your loved one knows they need assistance but are just fearful or unsure of what to do. They don’t want to burden you, but they may already ready to relocate to an assisted living community. Assisted living could be a welcome relief from managing household tasks such as cooking or laundry, navigating an increasingly too large a home, or they are having challenges taking essential medications on schedule. You might just be surprised at how ready and willing your loved one is to relocate to an easier, higher quality of living.
- Get ahead of the crowd. Most people have the best of intentions of making major changes and decisions once a new year begins, but often reality lags those good intentions. This paradox makes the first couple of months of the new year a great time to plan your tour of assisted living communities. Make this a resolution you keep. Assisted living and memory care communities are open every day of the week, which makes it easy to set a convenient time. This flexibility also makes it easier to have several family members tour together. You’ll have more people to share the research and visits, and to provide their input as to which communities seem like the best fit for your loved one.
Assisted Living: The Best Next Step
Even if someone doesn’t have any major health issues, they may start to need a little assistance preparing meals, taking a shower, or climbing stairs, for example.
Assisted living was created for precisely this purpose: to provide seniors with help for activities of daily living (ADL) such as housekeeping, meals, bathing, and errands.
In an assisted living community such as The Kensington Falls Church, residents want and receive some supportive care. Assisted living is also a good choice if a senior needs help getting to appointments.
Some of the services assisted living communities provides typically include:
- Assistance with ADL (bathing, dressing, grooming, eating, etc.)
- Medication management
- Social activities
- Health services
- Wellness programs
Choosing An Assisted Living Community for Your Loved One
Selecting the best community for your loved one depends on a number of factors, starting with geography. For example, does your loved one prefer living:
- In a city or suburban setting?
- In a warm climate, or one with four seasons?
- Near a major medical center, or close to shopping and entertainment?
- Close to children and grandchildren?
While some of these considerations are not mutually exclusive, it’s important to know what matters most to the senior, and what will best support their well being as they age.
Once you determine the ideal location, aim to visit between three and six assisted living communities. You’ll want to create a checklist to evaluate each community, covering:
- General Environment
- Physical Features
- Social and Recreational Activities
- Services & Amenities
6 Tips to Select A Community Your Loved One Will Love
Moving is a major decision at any stage of life stage, even more so in our senior years. So as you visit and evaluate communities in the new year:
- Take your time. The whole point of visiting assisted living communities before there is a strong sense of urgency is to allow you time to make the right choice. Congratulations on being proactive. Since you’re starting your search well in advance of the move, take the time to really feel into whether this is the best fit for your needs, both now and in the future. Some assisted living communities will allow a senior to “try before you buy” by staying overnight in a guest room for a few days or even longer.
- Be thorough. Quality care is critical, both in terms of everyday needs, such as medication reminders, and health care should the need arise. This is why the checklist is so important. An assisted living community should have well-trained, caring staff. At The Kensington, for instance, we provide onsite physician, care coordination by a full-time registered nurse, licensed nurses on staff 24/7 for medication management, onsite physical therapy and a fitness center. Look for signs that the seniors who live there are comfortable, content, and well cared for.
- Get input. Ask other family members to visit with you, or at another time, and exchange impressions. You might also seek the services of a professional such as a geriatric care manager or senior living advisor.
- Select for who the senior is now. An assisted living community that has a swimming pool when your loved one hasn’t been in the water in decades is planning for an outdated perception: understandable, but not realistic. Choose a community that matches your loved one’s current needs.
- Plan for the future. By the same token, choose a community where your loved one can “age in place” without having to move again if their needs change. At The Kensington Falls Church, we’re dedicated to the unique needs of residents with memory impairment. We also partner with Genesis Rehab to our residents regain or retain their optimal level of independence.
- Read the fine print. Make sure you understand the fine print in the contract. You may wish to review it with an elder law attorney before you sign.
Start the new year with a visit to The Kensington Falls Church, where we’ll be waiting to welcome you with open hearts and our lifelong promise: to love and care for your family as we do our own.