In a previous article, What to Do When Your Parents Need Help, I talked about moving from a home care situation to assisted living. Hopefully, that solution will be fine for a while. However, as your parents age, they may need higher levels of care. Fortunately, most modern assisted living facilities offer various services ranging from no special care to nursing care to memory care. That means that as your parents need different services, they might only need to change floors in one building instead of moving to an entirely new one.
Traditional Assisted Living
When they think about assisted living, many people think of a facility with activities, dining, and your own apartment or house. This idea is more like an active retirement community. Some of these do offer some level of assistance if needed.
However, most of today’s assisted living facilities have progressive care levels. There are also different care packages that you can order as needed. Maybe more care is required during an illness or simply as your parents age. But several situations might drive you to a different facility. For example, some facilities do not provide skilled nursing care or memory care.
When selecting a facility, try to look ahead a few years and assess the types of care your parents will need. I can tell you that it is very upsetting for everyone if you have to move your elderly parents from one facility to another. Consider how old your parents are when you start looking at facilities and their health. If you consider these things, you might avoid having to move your parents multiple times.
Skilled Nursing Care
Skilled nursing care involves trained nursing and medical professionals administering care services due to injury or illness. For example, skilled nursing care might be required for post-operative care, catheter, incontinence, colostomy care, administering intravenous or intramuscular medications, or monitoring medical equipment, to name a few.
These days, these services can be done in assisted living if the facility offers skilled nursing care, but many don’t. While none of us has a crystal ball, it is best to be prepared should your parents need this type of care.
For example, my friend Sally’s mother went to the hospital for what they thought was a UTI but she came home with a catheter. The doctor intended for the catheter to stay in for a prolonged time. Skilled nursing is required to maintain and change a catheter but my friend’s assisted living facility didn’t offer skilled nursing care. Guess what, Sally’s mother had to move to another facility very quickly. The situation made the selection process very stressful especially because it had to happen quickly. You don’t want this to happen to your parents.
Memory care is required if your loved one has dementia or Alzheimer’s disease. This type of care provides a higher level of service that can help residents dress, eat, exercise, and ensure that they don’t wander. A friend told me that her father, who lives in a memory care facility, always keeps the door to his apartment locked because other residents wander in periodically.
Memory care facilities or floors in a combined facility have the doors locked. You must have a combination to get out of the memory care section. This ensures that the residents are safe and unable to wander too far.
Private Care Givers
Surprisingly, assisted living facilities might not provide the level of care that you want for your loved one. For example, most facilities provide services according to a schedule. If you have toileting assist services they will schedule you every three hours. That removes your loved ones’ ability to control their own lives. In addition, many elderly people have a risk of falling but there is no way for the assisted living staff to watch your loved one all day.
In this case, you might need to hire another caregiver who stays with your loved one all day to make sure that they get to the bathroom and don’t fall. This extra caregiver can be expensive and usually comes from home health care agencies. Unfortunately, the level of care that your loved ones get depends on what you can pay for. Most of the services I’ve described are not covered by Medicare.
My goal with this article is to provide you with more information about the options available as your loved ones age. Thinking about the future could save you a lot of anxiety and money. I guarantee that most of your loved ones haven’t given future care much thought because it isn’t very pleasant.
Thinking realistically, what level of care do your parents need now?