When it comes the time for your loved one to move into a facility, how do you make the choice? Finding the right type of facility will be the key to getting their needs met and making them comfortable and as happy as possible. When looking for a facility most families need to consider the medical needs, care needs, comfortable environment, and social interaction. Try to look at the overall wellbeing of your loved one when choosing a facility. Cost can be a big factor so look into the costs and what you can get covered by insurance first.
Types of Senior Care Facilities
Independent Living-is a facility that is set up for the elderly that is an apartment style living quarters so that your loved one still has plenty of privacy and independence, but with activities set up for them to be more social and active. Having a community of peers is a great environment to help someone especially if they have recently lost the ability to drive or lost their spouse. To get the most out of these facilities get your loved one not to isolate themselves and to meet other people and make new friends and be involved in the activities. Sometimes you may still need to get some private duty care to make sure your loved one gets all their needs met while keeping them in a good environment.
Assisted Living-is a place where they can be and live in a hotel type of setting they have their own rooms and meals are in a dining room with minimal assistance but there is always someone around. Assisted living also offers medications services and limited personal care services, but they do take care of laundry and cleaning of the room. Assisted living also can have outings and take your loved one to appointments or to therapy if they need to go off site.
Memory Care-is usually a separate facility or part of other assisted living or skilled Nursing facilities. A memory care facility has a locked door for the safety of the patients suffering with dementia. Facilities like this offer medication services and keep an eye on your loved one more than in other facilities. If your loved one becomes violent or aggressive some of these places aren't set up for that kind of behavior. You will then need to be there with your loved one or have private duty care with them at night or all the time.
Skilled Care- are the places many people go to temporarily for rehabilitation or because they have medical needs that can't be met in a home style setting. Skilled care will have a facility doctor and staff nurses that oversee the care. therapy services are available at these facilities and are sometimes the only option if your loved one needs more care than you can provide in the home. Skilled nursing facilities are many times covered by insurance.
So to take a better look at what type of facility to choose here are some examples
“Jim” is a man with mild dementia. Jim is still mobile but he forgets. Jim forgets to take his medication and how to button his shirt. Jim is able bodied and can do for himself but he just stops and can’t remember how to do tasks. Jim can still function on his own but with a little bit of guidance and assistance. Jim can’t be home alone and gets frustrated sometimes when he can’t get things done. Jim knows he needs help and is calm and complies when helped.
Jim’s needs would best be met in assisted living. Jim would be able to have his own room and privacy. Jim would have structure and his laundry and housekeeping would be taken care of. For Jim an aid could come and tell him when meals are and assist him to get dressed. Most assisted living facilities have dining rooms and common rooms for the residents to relax. Jim can talk to other people and not be as isolated as he was at home with just a caregiver helping him. The staff can distribute medications and take care of the day to day needs for Jim so that he can be comfortable and monitored and his family knows he is safe.
Things to consider- Many assisted living facilities will ask you to have a caregiver on hand if your loved one is immobile. This can be a very costly if you have to hire a caregiver and pay for a facility. Assisted living might not take care of medical needs on site. If your loved one becomes ill or declines you may have to move them to another site. Assisted living might not have a nurse on duty or not setup to care for medical needs.
“Sally” is still mobile but she moves slowly. Sally has a sharp mind but with her arthritis she can’t go very far. Sally doesn’t leave the house like she used to and doesn’t get out to see her friends or get to church. Sally can still be independent and can still care for herself. Sally knows that her house is too much for her to maintain. Sally wants privacy and her own space without the extra work..
Sally would do well in independent living. Sally would have her own apartment and privacy. Sally would be in an apartment complex or building with her peers. Sally would be able to make friends and see others just by walking out the door. Sally could still have her space but still be close to help if there is an emergency. Many independent living facilities have a caregiver or home services on site or a group they recommend for assistance.
Things to consider- Even with your loved one being around peers they may still isolate themselves. If your loved one starts to decline they will have to move or get a caregiver to come in and help.
“Tom” has dementia he is still mobile but he is starting to wander. Tom can’t remember to take medications or to eat. Tom is not able to find his way home if he leaves and has had to be brought home by neighbors. Tom can’t be alone and will try to leave if you are not monitoring him. Tom can live with his family but they have to work and can’t be with him all the time.
Tom needs a memory care facility. Tom can be in a place in which he can be monitored 24 hours a day. Memory care units are locked and have staff on hand to assist with any needs. Tom can make sure to be safe and have his medications given to him. This may be a hard decision for his family but he needs to be safe and have his needs met.
Things to consider- When your loved one is in a memory care facility or unit they are not the only residents. Other residents may come in and be combative or abusive toward your loved one. Some residents may get confused and upset and take it out on those around them.
“Ethel” has had a stroke and can no longer walk. Ethel also has diabetes and has to be given her insulin after every meal. Ethel has an effected side and currently is bed ridden and needs total care. Ethel is trying to regain her strength and as much normal function as possible.
Ethel needs a skilled care facility. Ethel can go to a skilled care facility and receive occupational and physical therapy on site. Ethel hopes to go home but until then she needs nursing care. Ethel needs her diabetes monitored and medications administered. Ethel could stay with her family but her needs are too great. Ethel would best be served getting therapy and having a nurse in hand to make sure that she is safe and getting the care she requires.
Things to consider- Skilled care is more for medical needs and rehabilitation. Skilled care usually lacks the privacy of other facilities. Many skilled care facilities have shared rooms and not as many social activities. With skilled care there is no where else appropriate for your loved one to be. Try to find the best facility you can for your loved one’s needs.
Choosing the best place for your loved one is important. Take the time to consider all of these options and try to find a site with more than one type of care if possible. Choosing a site that can meet the needs of your loved one if they decline can make the process much easier. Give your loved one a say in choosing the facility if possible. (My post on decision making)