For adults in middle age, the health and well-being of aging parents often becomes an ongoing concern. Especially if you live outside your parents’ geographic area, you may worry their needs have changed and that they may require more assistance with everyday tasks.
Despite awareness that your parents eventually will need care, you may have questions about choosing the best senior care among the various options offered. You may be wondering what types of care are available, and how can you determine which will best meet your parents’ needs?
3 Different Levels of Senior Care
1. Assisted Living
Assisted living communities in Pacific Grove are ideal for individuals who continue to live relatively independently but require some assistance with daily activities. Residents of assisted living tend to remain quite active, attending a variety of daily activities, shopping, exercising, maintaining friendships and sometimes even driving.
Individuals in assisted living can receive help with a variety of personal care tasks, including bathing, dressing, eating and managing medications. They also have access to a range of supportive services, including delicious meals, fitness and wellness programming, learning and socialization opportunities, housekeeping and transportation.
How will you know if your parents would benefit from moving into an assisted living community? If their home was always tidy and is now cluttered, your parents may be feeling overwhelmed by the responsibilities of homeownership and maintenance.
If your family member lives alone and has begun showing symptoms of isolation or depression, socialization and engagement with other people may be lacking. Hygiene habits that have changed can be an indication that they are having trouble with personal care needs such as bathing or changing. Missing doctor’s appointments or other commitments can indicate that driving has become difficult or frightening.
Unopened mail or bills, unfilled prescriptions or a lack of adequate food in the house may also indicate additional issues with transportation or trouble with completing normal, everyday tasks.
2. Memory Care
Memory care communities provide supportive services for individuals with Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia. In some cases, individuals with dementia may wander; memory care communities offer a safe, secure environment that feels like home.
As with residents of assisted living, individuals residing in memory care communities receive assistance as needed with normal, daily tasks like bathing, dressing, eating and taking medications. In addition, staff members in memory care have received special training to fully understand the unique needs of people with cognitive challenges.
If you and your parent’s doctor believe your parent may have Alzheimer’s or another form of dementia, memory care may be the right choice. Signs that a memory care environment may meet your parent’s needs include spoiled food in the refrigerator and freezer, which could indicate that your family member often forgets to eat. Weight loss also can be a sign that an individual is not eating regularly and is suffering from malnutrition.
Unsafe conditions in your parent’s house — including leaving a stovetop or iron turned on — can be an indication of your family member suffering from memory or cognitive challenges; they may benefit from the safe environment provided in a memory care community. Making repeated calls at odd times, wearing the same clothes frequently, forgetting to take medications and behaving or speaking inappropriately can also be signs of memory problems.
3. Skilled Nursing
Skilled nursing communities, previously known as nursing homes, are appropriate for individuals who need intensive medical supervision and care. Skilled nursing residents may be in the process of rehabilitation following a surgery, illness or injury, or they may have chronic, debilitating medical conditions that require continual oversight and assistance.
Individuals in skilled nursing may require nursing care including tube feeding or catheterization, or they may have significant mobility challenges or be bedridden.
How can you determine if your family member needs skilled nursing care in California? In many cases, individuals enter skilled nursing following a traumatic event such as a stroke or a fall that causes a serious injury. In other cases, an adult child may have cared for a parent for as long as possible but may need assistance as the condition of a family member continues to deteriorate.
If you have been caring for an aging parent, you may want to consider skilled nursing care if your own health is suffering, or if you feel that you can no longer manage your parent’s care. A doctor or other medical professional also may advise you to seek skilled nursing care for your parent.
Communication Is Key for Making the Right Choice
If you believe that your parent needs care outside the home, it is important to communicate openly and make it clear that you want what is best for your parent. Siblings and other close family members should also be involved in the conversation, with everyone considering what type of care will best meet your loved one’s needs.
Ideally, you will have the conversation with your parents and other family members before a health crisis occurs. Making a move to an independent living community can help your parents retain their sense of control while preparing for the future, and they can enjoy the freedom that comes with relief from household responsibilities.
Forest Hill offers a full continuum of supportive services, including independent living, assisted living and skilled nursing. To learn more or to schedule a tour of our retirement community in Pacific Grove, California, please contact us today.