There comes a point, after living a robust and independent life, that a little help may be in order. You or a loved one may need some assistance with doing the everyday things that were once second nature and you may be considering a transition to a comfortable and affordable facility to suit your needs and desires.
Some people choose to start planning this phase of life early, for a few reasons:
- We know that lifespans are increasing – we’re living longer, have greater access to medical advances and the costs are rising.
- Many families disperse due to marriage or careers and adult children may not be living close enough to their parents to take care of them.
- If family is close, they may have children and careers that make them unable to fulfill a caregiver role to a parent.
No matter the time or reason you start considering assisted living, chances are, this can be a nervous consideration and it may feel like an overwhelming project to start.
Whether this situation applies to you, a parent, relative or friend, here are five tips to get you moving and to ease the transition for yourself or for a loved one:
A great first step could be checking out places in your desired living area. Do the research about different facilities, ask for recommendations, and determine which locations you would like to visit.
During your visit, ask as many questions as you need to feel comfortable. Meet the staff at the facility and consider if this is a place you or your parents will feel comfortable and be well cared for. Also consider the levels of care offered by each location. Does the assisted living facility have an advanced option for skilled nursing or memory care?
- Are they accredited by reputable organizations?
- Are there published studies on the quality of the facility?
- What is their care philosophy?
- Do they offer the amenities that you’re seeking?
- Will they provide references?
One of the most challenging and potentially stressful parts about transitioning to an assisted living facility is the sense of losing your independence. Making educated and informed decisions ahead of the need becomes particularly important at this phase.
You or your parents, if you’re managing the arrangements, should be closely and equally involved in the process. That way you’re able to address concerns, calm emotions, and provide assurances.
Prior to signing the final papers, be sure you do the appropriate research. Explore, explore, explore! Make sure you understand the facilities qualifications for entry, the financials, how they handle couples who need different levels of care, and your decision making power once you become a resident.
For family members, make sure the facility is within relatively close proximity to your homes, if possible. It should also be close to stores and medical offices, if necessary.
Draw up blueprints of the rooms. Imagine how they will be furnished and decorated. Room diagrams will help you to gain a better understanding of what you need to keep and what you should discard from your house during the moving process.
Ask for help from other family members and friends. Cleaning out and selling a house can be exhausting. When others pitch in, the work becomes more manageable and less costly. When you hire movers, costs rise and personal items that spark cherished memories can get lost in the shuffle.
Urge family members and friends to visit frequently during the transition, which can be an emotionally trying time for everyone involved. If you notice signs of depression or anxiety, seek counselling from professionals, ministers, or trusted family or friends.
Moving to an assisted living facility just might be the greatest move you or your parents will make. The facility may provide all the benefits of home and more. But it’s still a transition. It’s still moving away from home. That’s one of the reasons why everyone affected should remain intimately involved in the process.
Go ahead. During packing, reminisce about old items, furniture, or keepsakes. It may be bitter-sweet and time-consuming, but the process fosters a greater ability to cope with the change. You may opt for recreating the look of bedrooms or other areas of your house at the assisted living facility.
Furnish the rooms appropriately, to produce a kind of familiar home-sweet-home look. Take along pictures, lamps, books, candles, or other items to create that special feel. Try to incorporate all the senses: sight, sound, smell. You’re going after that personal touch.
Once you or your parents are moved in, get active. Get engaged. What’s there to do? What activities are available? And if you have a loved one in an assisted living facility, visit, visit, and visit some more.
If you could find activities at the facility which include family participation, that’s even better. If you’re a resident, make friends. If you helped your parents make the transition, see if you can connect them with others to make friends.
Residents of assisted living facilities can become fast friends with each other after discovering shared interests, past accomplishments, or other reference points from their past.
You can form friendships by working on puzzles together, attending online courses, participating in exercise programs, or getting involved in book or reading clubs.
The transition to an assisted living facility can be stressful and heart wrenching, but with a thorough and thoughtful strategy, you can create a very productive and easy experience. Tread gently and carefully for some happy living ahead.
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Published for the blog on April 29, 2019 by Searcy Financial Services, your Overland Park, Kansas Fee-Only Financial Planner and Investment Manager.