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Parental relocation to assisted living: what helps?
Old 07-01-2014, 03:17 AM   #1
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Parental relocation to assisted living: what helps?

My mom has lost a lot of her vision at the age of 85.
Up to now she was living independently in her house, 150 miles away from us. Now she has agreed to move into assisted living, 10 min from us.
It would be close to impossible to organize sufficient care for her at her house, as she does not feel comfortable having other people doing things for her or at her home. We have thought about a live in caretaker, but agree that she does not want this option.
So she had a test week in the assisted living facility, liked it enough to sign the papers and will move end of August.


If you have been in this situation: what worked for your parents?
What did not work?
What would you do different next time or wish you had done?
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Old 07-01-2014, 05:57 AM   #2
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Count your blessings. My mother steadfastly refused a caretaker or assisted living and things unnecessarily ended badly and prematurely.
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Old 07-01-2014, 06:40 AM   #3
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Wait and see.
My mom was very similar (hardly any vision left) and it worked out far better than I expected. She quickly made friends with other residents she ate meals with, and had no trouble for years until cognitive decline eventually set in.

Be sure she has some of her things that provide good memories for her so she has that anchor to better times.
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Old 07-01-2014, 07:00 AM   #4
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What works well is regularity. Now that you're closer set up a schedule of visits each week.
Don't interfere with staff. You will do better by observing what they do or don't do and taking it to management. Be persistent, and keep a written record for yourself.
Next time, I'd be more assertive with the facility managers when there are health issues.

Wishing you and mother all the best.
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Old 07-01-2014, 07:16 AM   #5
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Some random thoughts.

Sounds like she's a good candidate for a good transition. Try not to feel like to you have to be responsible for her adjustment. Remember, every staff person there is paid to make her comfortable, tend to her needs, and get her involved in activities. Of course, you need to be able to reassure yourself that they are taking good care of her. But you want her to make friends and integrate into the community. Sometimes adult children spend so much time worrying, stopping by, visiting, or checking on their loved one, they end up compromising their own well-being or spousal relationship.

You will get some added interaction with her when you take her to the doctor, optometrist, specialist, dentist appointments, shopping. Then there's paying the bill, keeping track of pharmaceutical bills. Every time a medicine changes, the care plan document has to be revised and signed by the doctor. While it's the facility's responsibility to see that this is done, it sometimes moves things along if you also put in the request to the doctor's staff. Best to change only one medicine at a time. Side effects can be a reality. Example: A new blood pressure medicine may cause constant coughing.

Don't leave valuables there. I know - they "should" be safe, but it's not nice to tempt people. If it's something that would cause a lot of regret if it was lost, don't leave it there, even for a day. It doesn't mean the staff took it. Lots of visitors are in and out of the facility and you never know who else's family members are not trustworthy. For example, you might get a replica of a wedding ring made out of something other than diamonds. She can have a little cash in her purse, and you can have money there in her resident fund at the office that she can get any time she wants it.

List every item on the inventory and have them sign it. Any time you add or bring in anything (clothing, framed photo, whatever), add it to the inventory in the presence of the designate staffer and have it co-signed. Find out what the clothing name label situation is. But even with names in clothing, things sometimes get lost. Ask nicely for the facility to replace it. Sometimes they will.

Have glasses marked and dentures can also have a name put on them that is a very small engraving. These last two items are more important for a nursing home resident, but could be handy now.

Ask if this is an assisted living facility that assists with medications if needed (some do, and unbelievably, some don't). If they do, they may require special packaging of the meds. This costs more.

Help her understand that if she wants something to drink, or a snack between meals, or before bed, all she has to do is ask. If she wants to keep snacks in her room, it's no problem, but provide containers or ziploc bags to prevent attracting ants or other pests from outdoors.

It's a documentation industry. If you have a problem or complaint that is not resolved after an initial request, put it in writing, worded in a kind way. Putting it in writing is "almost" like magic because there are requirements for addressing written complaints.

Get her a nice around-the-neck lanyard for her door key.

Kindest regards.
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Old 07-01-2014, 07:24 AM   #6
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I was very fortunate that my Mom was on board first with moving into an independent senior facility and then to an assisted living facility. She thrived in the assisted living place. She was a social butterfly, and loved interacting with the staff and other residents. Unfortunately, my job went away, and we had to move to New England - a very different culture than my Midwestern Mom had encountered. She was not happy in the new environment, and, she declined within a couple of years - eventually giving up when she was moved to a full care facility because of her emphysema. If I had a do over, I would have taken her back to her friends in the Midwest in lieu of maintaining my career. We learn too late that making money is not everything.
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Old 07-01-2014, 07:55 AM   #7
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IMO all you can do is help her move, choose a decent facility and visit as often as you can. From there it's up to her.

My MIL has been in a very nice facility for several years and she is miserable 24/7, and makes everyone around her miserable as well. But she's always been very demanding, needy and antisocial. Her children (including DW) visit or call as often as possible, several times/week without fail - nothing they do helps.

There are many others at the same facility who are thriving.
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Old 07-01-2014, 09:14 AM   #8
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Does she have a favorite food treat? The staff can add it to the pantry (or fridge).

It's amazing how therapeutic it can be for an older person to escape the isolation of their own home.
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Old 07-01-2014, 09:50 AM   #9
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Just thought of one of the favorite things to do with the in-laws. Either we pick up a bag of fresh sandwiches, or take a really short drive to Arby's.

When they first moved to independent living, I walked with them through a stand of trees to the store. They loved the experience.

Things have changed a lot in 3 years. Now we need to get them close to the door, and help them to the order counter. Still, they really enjoy the change of menu from time to time.
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Old 07-01-2014, 12:03 PM   #10
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She does sound likely to do well, since she has tried it out and it's her decision.

Encourage her to get involved in activities, but don't get too involved yourself. Don't feel like you need to see her or talk with her every day - let her have input into how much you interact. If she likes shopping, take her out every week or two. If you like to cook, have her over for dinner regularly (my sister had my mother over nearly every Sunday for many years). Definitely talk with management on a regular basis - ask them how she is interacting with the other residents, etc. If something unusual happens, it really helps to have a good relationship with the management first.
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Old 07-01-2014, 12:53 PM   #11
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My late mother moved into a continual care facility in her early 70's, and lived to age 98 so she was there for over two decades. She absolutely LOVED it right from the start. It was wonderful for us kids, too, because we were off in different states trying to earn a living and couldn't always be there for her. We always knew she was getting the care she needed, socializing with other seniors, eating healthy meals and getting her medications regularly, working out regularly at the facility's gym, and taking advantage of the many little events and entertainment get-togethers that the facility arranged for those who were interested in that sort of thing.

We did frequently quiz her pretty extensively, in as tactful a way as possible, concerning the care she was getting and her satisfaction with life there. Had she expressed any dissatisfaction with any of it, we would have descended upon the facility and whisked her away from there. She was very dear to us.
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Old 08-14-2014, 12:45 AM   #12
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I am with my mom (85) since Sunday.
She is moving from her home of 50 years to an assisted living apt. in 2 weeks.
Now we are sorting out her stockpile of clothes (collection of at least 20 years) to reduce the load.
So many pieces hardly worn, too small, bad quality or worn out to rags.
What is usable goes to goodwill. 3 bags on day 1, 8 bags yesterday.

I will leave today, then return 1 week before moving day for the sorting out and packing of all other stuff.

Wish her luck. 85 years, hardly any vision left, hearing problems, rheumatism.
They say you should not move an old tree, but there is hardly any alternative.

And even though she is pragmatic and accepting, she tells me each night that she prays for not waking up again. I am trying to avoid the news for not making her aware of Robin Williams' method.
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Old 08-14-2014, 12:51 AM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by heeyy_joe View Post
Count your blessings. My mother steadfastly refused a caretaker or assisted living and things unnecessarily ended badly and prematurely.
^ +1

My parents moved from a small town to next door from my sister's family in a very rural area. Mom felt isolated and the arguments between her and my sister eventually escalated to the point where my parents moved back to town.

Hind sight is always 20-20 but a charm offensive to convince them to move to an assisted living apartment would have been, far, far better...
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Old 08-14-2014, 03:56 AM   #14
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I just got back from spending 5 days with my mom (89) at her retirement place. She and my sisters are delighted she moved there 4 years ago. She also suffers from Macular degeneration (fortunately it is only really bad in one eye), and pretty much the litany of old age ailments the same as your mom.

She also is tired of being old, but being around lots of folks her age really has done wonders for her attitude. She is accepting of death but not eager for it, which is about all one can ask.

If your mom isn't by nature outgoing, the first few weeks maybe difficult. By all means get to know the staff of the place so you are person to them. I'd recommend eating a few meals a week with her and make a point of talking to the other residents.
My mom is more outgoing than myself so this was never a problem for her. Unfortunately her memory is bad enough she can't remember names a lot of the time.

I attended a movie night (I think most places have them) with my Mom. We watched the wonderful film Young@Heart, which is about rock and roll chorus with an average age of 80. (I have watched it twice and highly recommend it on Netflix). It was actually pretty moving to watch it with audience who were all at the same age.

Like W2R I think it is important to solicit your mom's comments on the place and then try to judge the ones she is saying because she is human and old and doesn't like change, vs the ones which are important. If the food is bad and the staff is indifferent than by all means find another place for her.

The food at mom's place is like being on cruise ship with smaller portions...
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Old 08-15-2014, 06:10 AM   #15
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Thanks for your input.
In her test week she looooooved the food. So this part should work out well.

There are also many options for socialising and the staff seems to take some effort to get newcomers well connected.
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Old 08-15-2014, 11:23 PM   #16
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Determine all the belongings that she values or uses on a daily basis and bring as many along as possible. Take pictures of the special possessions that can't go along such as a piano and put them in a scrapbook. Don't buy new thing right away unless necessary. My sister took my mom for some new clothes and out to lunch on the day of the move. We had a personal organizer that specializes in moves set things up in her ALF apartment before she arrived. Pictures were hung the bed was made when my Mom first walked in.

The little details matter.
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Old 08-15-2014, 11:39 PM   #17
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Determine all the belongings that she values or uses on a daily basis and bring as many along as possible. Take pictures of the special possessions that can't go along such as a piano and put them in a scrapbook. Don't buy new thing right away unless necessary. My sister took my mom for some new clothes and out to lunch on the day of the move. We had a personal organizer that specializes in moves set things up in her ALF apartment before she arrived. Pictures were hung the bed was made when my Mom first walked in.

The little details matter.
You are so correct the little things matter. My friend (94) moved to ALF in July. They asked her what color bedspread she wanted on her bed. They purchased one that matched her request and she was thrilled. She's in a studio so she sees her bed all the time and it's wonderful that she sees exactly what she wanted!

After she moved in, she asked me to find her a little lamp for her dresser. Coincidentally, I found one almost the same color as her bedspread. Again, she was thrilled. It's the small stuff!
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Old 08-16-2014, 05:53 AM   #18
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For those caring for or looking after someone being cared for an elderly relative, a place that sells clothes that are easy to change for a caregiver is Buck and Buck. Adaptive Clothing for Seniors, Disabled & Elderly Care - Buck & Buck Staff there liked it so much they asked DW to bring them a catalog.

DW bought a number of items that the nursing home staff was thrilled to see, like shirts that have what appear to be buttons but are really snaps, Velcro fly instead of zipper, Velcro shoe ties, t-shirts that snap up in the back, stuff like that. We thought the prices were reasonable for what we got and what has to be a small clothing market niche.

Little things count for a lot, and this helps.
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