Many families have the perception that when their elderly parents move into assisted living facilities that all of their parents’ needs will be taken care of. Family involvement might actually increase as the seniors are no longer able to do many things for themselves that are not the responsibility of the staff of the facility.
With the reality of life today, the degree of family involvement required is not always possible and families get exhausted or feel guilty if they are not able to do as much for their parents as they want. For most families, the cost of having someone else oversee the care of their parents is not feasible.
The supply of medications must be arranged for by the families. All clothing needs to be labeled so that they are returned to the proper senior after being washed. Dentures, eye glasses and electric razors should be labeled. These items can innocently be removed from a senior’s room by another senior with dementia. If the item cannot be found it is the responsibility of the families to replace them.
Families need to watch for missing objects, especially those that are not used every day and let the staff know so that the other seniors’ rooms can be searched. These items could include family pictures or other special mementos.
Again, even though their parents are in assisted living, families should still schedule regular check-ups for their parents’ general health, plus hearing, vision, and dental. It is the responsibility of the families to get their parents to these appointments, plus any other unscheduled appointments.
Emotional and spiritual care needs to be included to help prevent depression such as going to church or spending time in nature. True visits need to occur with the parents and not just time spent doing errands.
Families need to check that their parents’ rooms are properly cleaned. Not all facilities do detailed dusting as it could be upsetting to the seniors to have someone move their special items. Check that underneath the bed is being vacuumed and the washrooms are properly cleaned. Check to see if the rooms need a fan for the hotter months to provide a cool breeze. It is the families’ obligation to make sure that their parents have the proper clothing to outfit them for the various seasons.
When it comes to activities, there is only so much time that is possible by staff to spend with each senior. Some seniors will not engage with others but only with their families.
If families determine that the best thing they can do to care for their parents who are in assisted living facilities is to hire a care giver, then the families need to ensure that they are checking up on the caregiver on a regular basis.
Rarely are families prepared for the tremendous time commitment that is needed to continue to be actively involved with the life of their parents when they move into assisted living.
This article is written by or on behalf of an outsourced columnist and does not necessarily reflect the views of Castanet.