Monday, September 10, 2012

Assisted Living Week

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By Terry Orr

Most baby-boomers can recall the negative images, information and horror stories while they were growing up regarding nursing homes or place where old folks go to die.  In the early 1990’s, my grandmother moved into a skilled nursing/assisted living facility and her experience open the doors for other family members to follow.

Assisted living as it exists today emerged in the 1990s as an eldercare alternative on the continuum of care for people, for whom independent living is not appropriate but who do not need the 24-hour medical care provided by a nursing home and are too young to live in a retirement home. Assisted living is a philosophy of care and services promoting independence and dignity.

Established by National for Assisted Living (NCAL) in 1995, National Assisted Living Week® provides a unique opportunity for residents, families, staff, volunteers, and the surrounding community to come together to give residents a variety of exciting events and activities that show them how much you care about and love them. The 2012 theme, “Art for the Ages”, will inspire creativity and participation and will grab the attention of media.

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Keep these tips with you as you investigate your options and be sure to keep detailed notes on each community you visit:
  • Have a clear understanding of your family member’s needs
  • Ask lots of questions related to pricing and what is (and isn’t!) included in the monthly fee.
  • Pay close attention to the staff and ask questions about their credentials and training
  • Understand how the community handles increased level of care needs
  • Investigate the opportunities for socialization and recreation

12 Tips for a Smooth Transition to Assisted Living:
  1. Find the right community. If the residents and staff are friendly, this will go a long way in making an assisted living facility feel like home. Browse all licensed assisted living options in your area and research those that look attractive.
  2. Stay close. When family and friends are close, they visit more frequently. Visits are good, and make everyone feel a little better.
  3. Highlight the good stuff. Is the floor plan perfect? Is there a yoga class twice a week? Will the resident get help with difficult chores like laundry?
  4. Don’t take over. Assisted living residents should maintain a sense of independence. Their opinions matter and they still have a lot of control over choices that concern them.
  5. Don’t ignore negative emotions. Being sad is normal, and moving is a traumatic event no matter where you go or what you leave behind. Always listen to concerns.
  6. Throw a small home warming party. You can bring cherished items or new items and decorate, but it always helps when you can find a reason to celebrate.
  7. Keep an eye on your loved one’s health. Don’t assume that someone else is taking care of everything. When you are actively involved, everyone benefits.
  8. Find resident activities. Don’t wait to join the walking club or the book club or the bingo game every Thursday evening. Residents who get involved in activities early make friends more quickly and have a less difficult time becoming acclimated to their new surroundings.
  9. Eat together. Eating together a couple of times a week can be a great way to keep in touch and maintain that family bond. Plus, residents may socialize more when there is someone new to introduce.
  10. Don’t make promises you can’t keep. Dealing with the disappointment of a missed lunch date or special visit is always difficult. Follow through with your promises.
  11. Help with packing. It really is a chore to pack and sort a lifetime’s worth of belongings. Offering to help lessens the burden.
  12. Talk to a counselor. Sometimes the transition is difficult despite our best efforts to make it as easy and painless. Don’t be afraid to seek comfort from a listening ear.

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