Holidays Spur Spike in Assisted Living Tours | Print |  E-mail
Thursday, 07 February 2013 16:47

020713senBy Kati Knox, MPA

Special to the Times

Holiday gatherings don’t always deliver the gifts we were looking for — a new baking dish, the designer handbag to die for, or the new CD or book just out. But often, the holidays can serve us a hefty dose of reality that an aging relative may be losing the ability to live independently.

You expect the normal awkwardness and tension when near and distant family members come to visit and celebrate the holidays. It is at that time you’re suddenly alarmed with the realization that Dad is having trouble recalling basic information. They may be small things, but you feel it’s major  — because Dad has never forgotten anything… ever! Once the shock has set in, then comes a spell of denial, fear and panic.

Typically, I find that there is a spike in inquiries following Christmas Day and continuing through January. Family members often ask senior care managers for tours of facilities. But they do not necessarily conclude assisted living or another care option is needed immediately. In fact, the data further shows that the rate of people moving into assisted-living facilities does not increase following these inquiries.

A senior care specialist can evaluate the care and individual needs of your family member and help you through this transition by providing a variety of elder-care options that include nursing and assisted living.

There is not usually one immediate solution that a family or individual should jump to. Instead:

1. Explore options with a professional. You can request a geriatric assessment from your family  physician.

2. Evaluate the signs and symptoms and write everything down.

3. Sometimes jumping to conclusions is really about jumping to the wrong conclusion and actually missing what the real problem is.

4. Really talk with the individual who you think is having a problem; don’t talk around the person. And, no matter what you think the person’s current mental status is, don’t talk about them as if they are not really there.

Discerning what the problems and challenges are and prioritizing these with the help of a professional, whether it is a doctor or senior care specialist, will make a huge difference in  the  short-term planning and long-term outcome. Your loved one may just need some extra assistance with housekeeping, handling finances and/or grocery shopping. Whatever the needs are, it is really important to look at this objectively and, if possible, with the subject person present and participating in the process.

It is very easy and understandable for family members to just jump in and takeover a senior’s life. STOP, and remember that this person is still a viable and thoughtful person who deserves dignity, respect and love.

Even if mom or dad isn’t ready for such a drastic change, families shouldn’t wait to make these types of inquiries until after a loved one’s mental or physical capacity has diminished. For adult children, it’s important to start asking the questions and to start the conversation with your parents and siblings.

Ask your parents as soon as possible what they want for their elder years. This will serve to include them in the process and to assist you with honoring their wishes… and honoring them.

Finally, give yourself a break and get help. It is never easy to see your parent or loved one who was once strong, vibrant and healthy all of a sudden be weak, ill or dependent. Furthermore, really understand the limitations for your family — financially, socially and the amount of time you can devote to care.

Kati Knox is the executive director and CEO of Rose Gate Living and Senior Strategies Group in San Leandro. She can be reached at 510-915-6047 ( This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it ).

CAPTION: A senior care specialist can help evaluate the individual needs of your family member and recommend a variety of elder-care options that may include nursing or assisted living.

 

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