Aspects of Aging – Decisions Regarding Care
One of the hardest decisions for a family to reach is whether to suggest their parent remain at home or to discuss a possible move to assisted living when it becomes apparent that memory loss is affecting the parent’s safety and comfort.
The first step to take is to make sure that the memory loss is not reversible — that is, that it is not being caused by medications, alcohol, reduced blood circulation, depression, or any of several treatable conditions which can reduce cognition and cause symptoms closely resembling the early signs of a dementia of the Alzheimer type. A physician must be consulted for this.
When it is clear that more help and management is needed at home, the family is in the best position to carefully assess when the most difficult times of day are and what type of assistance would be effective. There are also several companies which can carry out assessments to aid the family in defining greatest need and planning for adequate care and household management. Some families find an objective, experienced, clinically sound advisor is more effective than stressing themselves over this.
For those who decide that a move to assisted living is the preferred course, there are critically important questions to ask; all centering on the quality of life, contentment, safety and dignity of the person facing diminishing abilities.
Assisted living is available in the private-pay market and/or in the subsidized market which is managed by a local Health Authority and which requires an assessment by them for admission. In either case, the features to compare with care at home are the degree of observation and supervision included in the basic cost, the type and frequency of social interaction, physical help if there are any mobility problems, oversight of medication, communication with family and physician, levels of nutrition, spiritual support. Anticipated cost of extra services should be clarified.
Staying at home, with varying hours of support, from companionship to full care, is an option more seniors are pursuing. It can be far less disrupting or stressful than moving away from familiar surroundings and activities and is why the family must gather all possible information in the search for the best outcome.
Written by Anne Duggan, Invited Advisor to Bell Alliance on Aspects of Aging