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In-Home Assistance vs. Assisted Living
Written by Emily Groezinger

When your family is trying to figure out what the best living option is for a senior loved one, consider what the senior wants as well as the following:

Is your loved one safe at home by themselves? Can the safety of their home be improved?
Think about potential hazards that may cause your loved one to fall (rugs, stairs, cluttered areas, etc.). Reflect on how you can eliminate some of these safety hazards. Consider adding grab bars or handrails to make it easier for your loved one to stay balanced while walking. If your loved one is planning on staying at home, consider helping them declutter and get rid of unneeded items around their home. Decluttering can decrease stress and reduce dust and allergens in their home. Clear out items that have not been used in the past year. Make sure to include your loved one in the process. Focus on a specific area at a time and start small. You don’t need to declutter the whole house in one day.

Can your loved one keep up with the responsibilities of maintaining a home?
Maintaining a home can be overwhelming. There are many responsibilities that come with living on your own. Your loved one may find it difficult to keep up with cleaning, keeping up the house, grocery shopping, cooking, doing laundry, mowing the lawn, and paying bills. There are companies that will provide in-home care as well as many companies that provide handyman services, household management, technology support, organization, lawncare, and financial management. Family members may also help with these tasks. If someone asks how they can help, assign them a task they would be successful with. If money is a concern, consider calling your local church or volunteer organization to help.

Is there a family member who could provide care at home?
Caring for seniors in their home can be challenging, however, having them move in with you will also provide challenges and new stress. Sharing space and helping each other can work. Putting together an agreement about each other’s responsibilities, rules of the house, etc. can help. Remember to respect each other’s individuality and personal space.

Can my loved one try the senior community before they commit?
Yes! Trying a community for 2 weeks to 3 months is called a respite stay. It’s a great idea to live in the community before committing to a long-term lease. You can see if you like the environment, the food, activities and your new living space. Respite is also an option for family caregivers who need a break. The senior can go to adult daycare, a senior center or you can hire a caregiver for a few hours per day. This will help alleviate stress, prevent burnt out, give you time to get shopping done or even go to the spa.

Will they get enough socialization and be excited to wake up each morning?
When seniors live alone, they may experience social isolation which often leads to cognitive decline and depression. Seniors should have plenty of time to interact with friends and family. Like all of us, seniors find joy in life when they can spend time with others. Assisted living communities provide a variety of recreational and social activities where seniors can spend time with other like-minded seniors in a fun environment.

Would they benefit from a caregiver or family member cooking balanced, nutritional meals?
It is important that seniors are eating healthy meals regularly throughout the day. If they live on their own, make sure they have access to fresh and nutritious food. If your loved one has a hard time going to the grocery store on their own, or cannot cook, consider a meal delivery service. There are a wide variety of meal delivery services for seniors. Some will deliver groceries and others can deliver cooked meals. In-home caregivers can also provide healthy meals each day.

What are your loved one’s medical needs? Do they remember to take their medication, or do they require reminders?
Consider the severity of your loved ones’ medical needs. There are several levels of assistance offered through home-based care providers, assisted living communities and skilled nursing facilities. Assisted living communities can help with meals, personal care and medications. Skilled nurses and rehabilitation services are offered at nursing facilities.

If you are concerned for your loved one’s safety, health and wellbeing, consider a senior community. Finding a senior community will be based on medical issues, physical abilities/disabilities, assets and income, location requirements, amenities sought and their personality. Once you find a community to move into you will need to get a TB test, provide medical information and obtain a letter from their primary care physician stating they are ready for a senior community.

Elderwerks Community Resource Consultants can help you navigate all types of senior housing, home care agencies and service providers. The information, referrals and guidance offered will be based on your loved one, so you will only tour the best-suited communities. Visit www.elderwerks.org or call 855-462-0100 for your complimentary assistance.

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