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Frequently-asked questions when considering an Assisted Living Facility (ALF) for myself or my loved one: "When is the right time?". It's not an easy answer. It's part of the process of being a caregiver.
The moment when you begin to ask yourself, "Is it time for my mother or loved one to move into an Assisted Living Facility?" can be overwhelming and undeniably very painful. It can make you realize that the task of being a caregiver is challenging to your core, it can be an emotional roller coaster at its best, and it can be a hard pill to swallow. Yet, there's probably a good reason why you are asking yourself this question. It's a signal that you are ready to consider your options of caring for your mother in another setting.
When I worked in an Assisted Living Community (ALC) this would be the first question most families asked. It made sense. You want the timing to be right. You want to be making the best decisions. You want your loved one to have the best care. Yet there's a red flag that has popped up and you want to address it.
What I suggest is this: If you are asking yourself this question for any of these reasons, you are making a wise decision to explore this option because of a number of common reasons: (1) you are seeing changes in your loved one that have you concerned that they need more care than you or someone else can handle; (2) you are concerned for their safety and well-being; (3) you are at your wits end.
Here's a helpful tip: You don't have to make this decision alone. There are people who know your parent well that can give you some insight and maybe suggestions on whether your mother is ready for Assisted Living or not.
Your mother's doctor-Ask him/her if they have noticed any changes as well. If you have kept a journal (hint-hint) of your mother's condition and how you are feeling share it with the doctor. They may have noticed some changes in your mother, but didn't put all the pieces together. It's important that the doctor agrees with you or respects your decision because they will have to complete and sign the State Required Medical form (in FL it's called an 1823); which is valid for 30 days before your mother can move into an ALF.
Your mother's neighbor-They are often the most informed, but they are too polite to say anything. Almost daily your parent is asking them for help and they want to be kind without realizing that your mother may need more help. In fact, they may not be aware that your mother forgot to take her medications, keeps dialing you up at work with the same question, has fallen several times, and/or is crying because she is lonely.
If you are asking yourself the question, "Is it time for my mother to move into an ALF?" Then it's time for you to explore at least 3 ALF's. If the time is not right now, it may be in the future and you want to have that list ready, have a few in mind if and when the time is right. There are many reasons why someone moves into an ALF or doesn't, but what is important is that you know your options and you remain connected to your inner wisdom. Then you will know when it is the right time. Whether your mother moves into an ALF now or later, as a caregiver you want to be informed and prepared for any unexpected changes in your loved ones health and well-being.
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When my mom was still living in her own home and she would occasionally ponder when/if she should consider moving, I always encouraged her to consider that having the opportunity to make a more "leisurely" choice (i.e., not waiting until she HAD to move) would offer her many more options.
Two key benchmarks I also consider (both with my clients and with family/friends) include:
1) Are they safe?
2) Are they comfortable?