When your loved one has reached a point where assisted living is a consideration, it's important that you don't make a rash decision. The choice to move into assisted living is a difficult one, and you'll want to make sure that you and your loved one explore all aspects of the facility before making a commitment. After all, with such a major transition, you want to be sure that your family member is going to be happy. Every facility has its own standards and guidelines, and it's important to familiarize yourself with them. Here are five things you may not think to consider that can affect the success of the transition.
Socialization and Activities
One of the most common complaints to follow an assisted living transition is boredom and depression. When an aging family member moves into an assisted living facility that doesn't offer enough opportunities for socialization and interaction, it can lead to feelings of isolation and sadness.
Think about your loved one's socialization habits and health. If he or she is in decent health and has always been a social butterfly, you don't want to choose an assisted living facility that does little in the way of gatherings and activities. Instead, you'll want to choose a facility that has many different opportunities for interaction.
Introverts may prefer a facility that leaves everyone on their own for socialization. This takes the pressure off for those who may not be comfortable with large group events. Understanding your loved one's personality and preferences is key here, so take time to talk with him or her about the best environment.
Meal Preparation Options
Meal preparation options are often overlooked when choosing an assisted living center. You may find that your loved one prefers to have a facility where he or she can make meals independently. For family members who enjoy cooking and still have the capacity to do so, this is often a significant part of the facility choice.
On the other hand, if there are safety concerns with kitchen appliances, if your loved one isn't a skilled cook or you find that he or she wants a facility that offers food service. This can take the pressure off of having to do grocery shopping and meal preparation.
Depending on your loved one's preferences, you may need to find a facility that will accommodate special dietary needs or serve meals individually. Others may prefer a dining room structure where meals are served and everyone gathers at those pre-determined meal times.
Guests and Visiting Hours
Don't underestimate the importance of accessibility for visits. Every assisted living facility will have its own visiting hours and restrictions on visitors. If your family member wants the flexibility to have grandchildren come to stay or to host family gatherings, you need to consider this when you ask about visitation policies. Let your loved one determine what works best for him or her, because some people may prefer to be picked up and visit with family at another member's home.
One of the hardest things about some assisted living facilities is a prohibition on pets. If your family member has a dog or cat, having to get rid of the beloved pet as part of the transition will only make the process more difficult. Look for a facility that has a flexible pet policy so that he or she can keep the pet.
Customization of the Space
In order for the space to really feel like home, you will need to choose a facility that permits some decoration and modifications. Ask about what the options are in terms of painting or wallpaper application so that you know what you can and cannot do. Then, work with your loved one to personalize the area in accordance with those guidelines. If painting is a deal-breaker, look for a property that provides more autonomy in decorating.
The transition to an assisted living property is one of the most difficult ones, but it doesn't have to be. With the tips presented here, you can address some of the most often overlooked but most emotional issues related to the transition.