How to decide if a Residential Care Home is the right decision for an Ageing Loved One
The Decision to move into Resiential Care or Nursing Care should be made by
Making the Decision
In an ideal world all families and those we are close to would live in a safe and supportive community. Sadly for many families, divided by distance, serious and chronic illness, divorce et al seniors and others can find themselves alone with a seriously diminished capacity to take care of themselves. This can lead to depression as a result of isolation, falls and other safety risks.
When my mother and father were not able to stay in Canada due to the deterioration of my fathers' health and the slow process of the necessary paperwork to provide them with appropriate medical coverage here, I had to send them back to the UK for immediate medical treatment. My father died six months later. My mother was then advised that she had Parkinsons.
At first her symptoms were physical and she was able to sustain an active and independent lifestyle. More recently Dementia, as a result of Parkinsons, has impacted her short term memory and she becomes easily confused contrasted with moments of extreme lucidity.
Making the decision whether or not a move is right is not something that should be taken lightly. Wherever possible advance planning and family discussion should be done well in advance of the need for the decision. However, in some cases a medical emergency such as a sudden stroke or accident can mean pre-planning or discussion is not possible because the medical needs are greater and make returning home impossible.
Finances are important in the decision to move but really the only important criteria is to make the decision based solely on the best interest of the individual. In our case the decision was based on the social and safety nneds of my mother, given that I am very far away. If I lived in the UK I may have still encouraged her to make this decision and then ensured that the location of the facility enabled me and my children to visit her on a daily basis.
Isolation as well as safety was a promoting factor in our case, given that my mother has always been a social creature. For others the social aspect may not be important and staying at home alone is preferred if there are enough practical and medical supports in the environment and social interaction at meal times and at bed time.
Many elderly people suffer from depression and lack of stimulation which puts their longevity and quality of life at risk. Depression, wich has not been a concern until ageing occured, can be overlooked when there are other over riding medical concerns. Rather than medication, emotional and physical stimulation can promote wellness and overcome the depression in seniors.
Selecting the Right Care Facility
Factors to Consider When Choosing the Care Facility
Depending on the nature and severity of the medical, social or other circumstances that have led to the decision for a care home, some residents will be moved directly into a nursing home that can provide the appropriate medical support.
In other cases a residential care home that offers assistance with medications, social activities and twenty four hour supported independence may be more appropriate. It is very important to not only consider the medical needs of the individual but also who they themselves are - what is important socially and environmentally to them, despite their need for care and support.
In our case, after we visited several options, most important were:
- the staff who worked at the facility
- proximity of travel that meant access to a local church
- transportation so friends could easily visit
- opportunities to be socially active
- supported independence (as much as is realistically possible)
Practical Matters Before and After the Move
Once a decision to move has been made there are many practical matters to be dealt with.
Appoint and share tasks amongst the siblings. This will help commaraderie and lead to less conflict down the road. If, like me, you are an only child perhaps share the tasks with a trusted friend or pay professional movers etc. to do things that are impossible due to circumstances.
If there is conflict about the decision to move, within the family, consulting with a professional mediator to iron out a workable agreement may be an option. Try not to let family disputes cloud judgement and remember that every decision must be in the best interest of the person moving into the care facility or nursing home.
Move the telephone and number to the facility if and when possible
Set up an internet or skype connection via the television for family and grandchilden to keep in touch, supported by care staff if necessary
Change Banking Address and ensure all financial matters are secure
Legal, estate and wills. Consult with the family solicitor and ensure the will and matters relating to the estate are up to date and the wishes of the person are known to all.
Sell, gift or donate furniture and other personal effects that are no longer wanted in consultation with the person moving whenever possible
Make sure that important personal photographs and belongings are moved with the person
Create a cheerful and homely environment within the care facility that feels "like home" for your loved one
Be patient with the transition and anticipate how you will manage with tears, farewells and confusion
UK Age Concern
- Care & Home | Care at home | Residential Care | Age Concern is now Age UK
Information on housing options available for elderly people, including help getting care at home to how to choose a residential care home.
Update - Four Months Later
I am updating this article four months after the move for my mum and my return to Canada. Since being at the home her health and well being have significantly improved. Her overall "happiness" rating has moved from being depressed and sad most days to being happy and contented most days. The overall relief I feel about the move has also significantly reduced the stress of living so far away and the constant worry about waiting for "that" phone call.