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Deciding When Your Loved One is Not Safe to Live Alone

What Are My Options?

April 2016

As a follow up on our last blog, if you’ve made the decision that your loved one needs to move, the next question you may ask yourself is “where?”

There are many senior living options. Choosing the right one depends on each senior’s needs and personal preferences. Here is a short summary of options generally available.

Independent Living (IL)
An independent living community is usually a multi-unit housing development that provides apartment style living. IL communities may also offer services such as meals, housekeeping, social activities, and transportation. Seniors often choose to live there for the companionship of friends nearby, as well as the amenities offered. Kensington Place offers an all-inclusive lifestyle for independent seniors that features award winning dining, top-notch health care, spacious and well-appointed apartments and a host of fitness, hobby and leisure areas designed for carefree retirement living. There are also IL facilities constructed for seniors on fixed incomes. These buildings offer safe community living at rents based on income level. Lutheran Social Services (LSS) operates many affordable buildings locally. Visit www.lssco.org for more information.

Assisted Living (AL)
Assisted living facilities are for seniors needing assistance with daily living but also want to live as independently as possible. AL facilities offer help with activities such as bathing, dressing, housekeeping, and assistance with medications. Many facilities offer multiple tiers of care so that seniors only pay for the care that they need and can add services as they age. Kensington’s continuum of care model embraces all lifestyles and levels of care, allowing residents to enjoy maximum autonomy and independence in the most home-like setting possible.

Memory Care (MC)
Memory care specifically caters to residents with Alzheimer’s disease, dementia and other types of memory concerns. MC units should provide 24-hour supervised care in a separate wing or floor of a residential facility. In addition to providing assistance with activities of daily living as in an AL facility, memory care staff members are specially trained to assist residents with impaired cognition. The security of MC units is important to note so that resident wandering behavior is minimized and the environment is pleasant, safe and not overwhelming. Grace House at Kensington Place offers memory support care in a safe and secure environment reserved for a small number of very special residents. This home-like setting is designed to nurture and enhance each resident's mind, body and soul. It is important to us that each resident feel at home and thrive here.

Nursing and Rehabilitative Care
A nursing home is a long-term care facility licensed by the state that offers a full range of health care services, including basic and skilled nursing care and rehabilitation therapies. This could include memory care, occupational and physical therapy, disease management, IV therapy, wound management and more. Amenities are still important in these facilities and should include meals, housekeeping, laundry, transportation and more. Visit https://www.medicare.gov/nursinghomecompare/ to search for facilities in your area and compare Medicare and Medicaid quality survey results.

Home Health Care
Of course, many seniors choose to stay at home as long as possible. This time can be extended with home health care or home care. These terms can be used interchangeably but there is an important distinction. While both types of care are provided at home, home care generally means household services such as laundry, cooking, cleaning and running errands. Home health care refers to the skilled level of care that requires medical training. This can include procedures such as IV insertion and management, occupational and physical therapy and pain management. LSS Home Health Care is a leading provider of skilled home health care and believes in integrating each patient’s strengths and support from family with the skills of a multidisciplinary medical team to maximize independence. Visit www.lsshomehealthcare.com for more information.

Continuing Care Retirement Communities (CCRC)
CCRCs provide care from independent living to assisted living to skilled nursing. They are designed to enable seniors with progressively declining health to remain in one location or to give healthy seniors the peace of mind that all their future needs are covered.

This is just a short overview of the many options available for seniors. Take the time to explore all the possibilities available. The Franklin County Office on Aging has many helpful resources to help you make the best decision for your family, visit www.officeonaging.org.

Deciding When Your Loved One is Not Safe to Live Alone

February 2016

It’s a common story. The whole family is gathered for the holidays. You are staying with your aging parents for a few days and you start to see things that are a little off or out of place. Maybe most of the food in the refrigerator is expired or the laundry hasn’t been done in a while. Or you’ve noticed that Mom is having trouble getting up from a chair or Dad has lost his keys multiple times over the weekend. These incidents could be signs that it’s no longer safe for your loved one to be living alone.  But how do you know for sure? There are a number of factors to consider.

First, study your loved one’s physical condition. Recent drastic weight loss, unexplained bruises or a marked loss of balance or strength may indicate that Mom is having trouble taking care of herself. Also keep an eye out for decreased grooming or a lack of clean clothes. These signs may be subtle but they can illustrate early physical limitations that can be dangerous.  Some specific signs to look for include:

  • Body odor
  • Disheveled appearance
  • Wrinkled or dirty clothing
  • Poor diet/no interest in cooking
  • Difficulty negotiating stairs or steps
  • Difficulty keeping balance

Other considerations are cognitive signs. Forgetfulness and confusion are red flags that should never be overlooked. These could be the first signs of dementia. Does Dad forget to take his medications? Has Mom gotten lost on her way to church? Never take these signs for granted. Some other signs could include:

  • Missing important deadlines or appointments
  • Doubt and confusion when doing familiar tasks
  • Forgetfulness
  • Lack of interest in favorite activities
  • Fluctuations in temperament or extreme mood swings
  • Forgetting to take prescribed medications
  • Signs of depression and feelings of isolation

Some signs are easiest to see in your loved one’s home. Look around for objects that are out of place or for signs of neglect. If there are new characteristics that are not as they have been in the past, this could signal that Mom or Dad need help with daily chores. Other signs could include:

  • Spoiled or expired food in the refrigerator
  • Strong smell in the house
  • Dirt, extreme untidiness or excess laundry
  • Overflowing unopened mail
  • Calls from bill collectors or late payment notices
  • Unexplained dents and scratches on the car or in the home

If you’ve experienced enough of these signs to decide that your loved one is no longer able to live alone, the resulting conversation will be difficult. However, it’s best to have it before anything dangerous happens. Making Mom or Dad part of the decision making process will make it easier for them to accept. There are plenty of options that you and your loved one can review.

If Mom just needs some help taking care of her home, you can hire a home care service to help with daily living needs like grocery shopping and cleaning. For medical services like medication management or wound care, you’ll need to hire a home health care service. LSS Home Health Care provides top-notch and dignified medical care by highly trained medical professionals. Other options may be to enroll your loved one in an adult day center or move your parent into your home. For those who need 24 hour help or are feeling isolated, an assisted living facility may be the best decision. The team at Kensington Place in Columbus would be happy to show you the benefits of moving Mom into a place where she is safe, well-cared for and among friends. Call us at 614-252-5276 for a personal tour today.

Take the time to explore all the possibilities available. The Franklin County Office on Aging has many helpful resources to help you make the best decision for your family, visit www.officeonaging.org. For more information on LSS Home Health Care, visit www.lsshomehealthcare.com.

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