Helping your parent or loved one decide if and when it’s time to leave their home can be difficult and complicated. While sometimes the need for a move is obvious, other times the answer is not so clear.
What to Look For
The holiday season is a good time to observe loved ones and notice any signs they may be struggling.
“Has Mom lost weight? Is Dad not getting around as well as he used to? These common but often over-looked signs can be key indicators that Mom and Dad are having trouble staying independent,” said Ann Sutton Burke, Jewish Family Service Director of Aging and Caregiving Services.
Some common indicators that they may need help can be recognized through physical appearance and behavior changes, including changes in weight, lack of mobility, unexplained bruising or injuries, forgetfulness and confusion, poor hygiene, and changes in mood or depression.
Other key indicators are signs of inadequate living at your loved one’s home, including an empty refrigerator or spoiled food, stacks of unpaid bills, new or unexplained dents in their car, an un-kept house, and concern from neighbors.
“If you notice that an aging relative fits one or more of these descriptions, it is important that you address it, especially if you are worried about their safety,” Burke said.
Making the Decision
Gently approach your parent or loved one with concerns, and let them know you are there to help them. Involve their physician in discussions, or hire a care manager.
“If possible, begin the research well in advance of when you think you or a loved one might want to relocate,” said Cedar Village CEO Dan Fagin. “Take the time to plan financially and make thoughtful decisions about what to bring with you and where you want to make your new home.”
Some care facilities have waiting lists. Plus, planning ahead lets you spend more time being certain of the quality of care and programming.
“If possible, begin the research well in advance of when you think you or a loved one might want to relocate. Take the time to plan financially and make thoughtful decisions about what to bring with you and where you want to make your new home.” –Dan Fagin, Cedar Village CEO
“Safety and loneliness are key drivers for people to consider moving to a campus like Cedar Village,” Fagin said. “Boredom and social isolation can become problems for people who don’t have access to enriching and stimulating activities.”
What to Consider
If you and your parent or loved one come to the decision that it is time for them to leave their home, take time to explore options to make sure you find the best fit.
“While both members of a couple may be healthy today, and hopefully will stay that way, confirm that the campus you are considering can care for a loved one whose healthcare needs increase,” Fagin said. “For example, if a spouse needs memory care or health care services not available on your campus, they may have to move.”
It’s important to learn what happens if finances are exhausted. Most campuses now accept Medicaid in their nursing homes. However, access may be limited.
“Determine whether there is likely to be space for you or a loved one if the need ever arises,” Fagin said. “Some facilities have multi-year waiting lists for Medicaid beds.”
Make sure you or your loved one feels comfortable in the new space.
“Attend public events at a campus you’re considering,” Fagin said, “to see if you feel at home before making yourself at home.”
Whether you or a loved one are planning a move and don’t know where to start, or need advice about what to consider for the future, AgeWell Cincinnati can help you begin that journey.