Elderly parent caregiver considerations-Assisted Living realities

Elderly parent caregiver considerations- Assisted Living realities centers on key elements of what to expect from the experience.

As with all aspects of elderly parent caregiving, Assisted Living placement is initially misunderstood.

What IS Assisted Living?

There are typically three types of elderly living facilities. And many elderly parent caregivers are surprised by the differences. Here are the big three:

  • Independent living for seniors- these are often represented as vibrant and carefree. Actually- many of them are.While they usually provide living space, some meals, housekeeping and transportation, they LACK what you may expect. For example, there are NO services to “assist” your elderly parents. As a result, if your parent falls, expect the response to be a call to 911 and you. 
  • Assisted Living– http://aboutassitedliving.org offers a comprehensive account of common AL characteristics. However, it is what Assisted Living does NOT offer that catches caregivers off guard. Stay tuned and I will give some hints.
  • Skilled nursing (aka nursing home)- Because your parent can’t perform basic day living chores. this is the highest level of care.Consequenlty….the most expensive.

Assisted Living stages

  • The Decision  This is often on of the most confusing and guilty ridden choice we  help our elderly parents make. While most elderly parents age” into” Assisted Living, we choose this type of facility for similar reasons. The TOUGH reality is our parents can no longer live independently. As a result, we “hunt” for the right place.
  • Hunt with a plan OK- you have your parents on board with the move ( I WILL address this in a future post!) So what should your  “hunting” plan include? Here are a few critical considerations: make a list,keep your parent involved in making the choice,visit in PERSON ( websites are often “glossy” but inaccurate.)
  • What to look for  Consideration include: location ( keep it close), licensing and certification, MONEY( do they accept Medicaid?) ,Cleanliness, Smell factor ((clean of “disinfected”?), medical care, staffing patterns( are there ENOUGH staff to cover needs)  AND your GUT reaction. Listen to your instincts and gut on this. They are often insanely accurate.
  • What to look past. As lovely as it seems, the appearance of the facility is not how to choose. The draperies, the grounds, the fancy chandeliers are NOT what your parents will ultimately need. Look past anything otters than basic cleanliness. SO….look FOR: staff engaged with the residents, the types of activities going on, the general demeanor of the residents.

Elderly parent caregiver considerations- Assisted Living realities

While Assisted Living reduces the worry of safety, it does not provide more than “assistance”. If you expect your caregiving to be replaced by the facility you WILL be disappointed.Your parent will be in a facility that gives basic support. 

Here are a few of my observations and realities :

  • The staff are usually caring,competent and underpaid. What they are expected to do and how they are compensated do not matchup!
  • Care is basic. Rather than constant care this is “when needed care.”
  • Be present and involved. First of all, let the staff and facility know that you are onboard. The more visible you are, the more attention your parent may receive. Due to that – YOU are the advocate- not the facility.
  • Establish relationships with the front line staff. They are in the trenches when you can’t be.
  •  Finally,let the staff and facility know what you appreciate. AND…. what may need to be changed.
  • Most of all,your parents will pay a LOT of money for this service.

Assisted Living changes the service delivery . But….YOU – the caregiver- are still the most critical component in your parent’s wellbeing.



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