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Moving from a home of a lifetime is an incredibly challenging decision for every family member involved in the care of a parent, most especially for the parent involved.  We love our parents unconditionally, respect them deeply, and very much want to honor any preference they express to us.  But, often, our parents are so committed to the family house that holds so many memories, that it can understandably overshadow an ability to be objective about their own care needs.  And, sometimes those “deep roots” can run so deep, that our loved one can ignore or dismiss the negative consequences of not being able to manage their daily needs.  

The answer is, “each life situation is both different and deeply personal.”  

That’s why every LifeServices’ Community has a full time, professionally trained Senior Living Counselor or our Community Director.  One, or both, of these professionals can sit with you and confidentially discuss your personal situation as to the proper time and the best process to follow in helping your parent decide.  Maybe it’s not now and it is later.  But, we can educate you now as to how to help Mom decide when she “is ready” and, by then, all of us know each other and “we’re ready, too” for  her to join our Community.  Call anytime.  The advice and the coffee are with our compliments!
First, trust your instincts.  If it feels like something “isn’t right”, then something probably isn’t right.  Often, it’s things we sense but don’t consciously observe.  For example, many of our new residents that first join our Communities are actually suffering from both dehydration and malnutrition despite the fact that caring, involved adult children have been helping every day for a long time.  “Tea and toast” or “a little something for lunch” isn’t acceptable practices or proper nutrition and hydration for anyone, especially older people.  For all the vital signs, including measuring weights, which routinely go on at doctor’s offices, one would think that weight loss among the elderly would get noticed more and addressed more aggressively.  Malnutrition and dehydration are still considered two of the major problems for all of America’s elderly.  

At our Communities, we have literally marveled at the improvement we see in our new residents as to their mobility and their mentation after thirty days of three, home cooked meals, other drinks in addition to coffee and tea, and proper medication management.
While it’s great that your Mom is living so independently, this situation can have its drawbacks, too, especially over time.  Gerontological research has long shown that the single greatest factor causing functional decline in people, other than the physiological aspects of aging, is “social isolation.”  

People need to be around people.  And, when we’re not around people, we can decline in our ability to care for ourselves and effectively interact with other people when we are eventually around them.  That’s why any number of older adults, still capable of managing their daily routines, still decide to join a LifeServices’ Community.  They have their independence and their privacy anytime they want it in their own private apartment home.  But, they are also free to choose to spend time in our Commons enjoying their friends and neighbors.  And, each Community has a full time, trained Activities Coordinator that organizes activities around both the specific interests of our residents and what’s therapeutically good for them, too.  

When you visit a LifeServices’ Community, spend some time reviewing the Activities Calendar.  You will see activities throughout the day, evening, and seven days a week.  You’ll see activities that are good for the body and good for the mind.  And, if you see something unique, ask your Senior Living Counselor or Community Director.  In all likelihood, it’s an idea one of our residents enjoys and all of us at the Community are enjoying it now, too.
Properly defining the type of long term care an aging parent needs is, regrettably, a much more complicated task than it ought to be in these modern times.  But, it is tough, and that goes for Doctor, too.  Generally speaking, when Doctor assesses Dad and sees medical conditions caused by poor personal hygiene, loss of weight due to poor nutrition, medical consequences from mismanagement of medications Doctor is prescribing, full time dependence on a wheelchair or a walker, and some consistent level of mental confusion, Doctor is trained to understandably think, “Home care isn’t working here anymore. Nursing home now.”  But, for lots of older people, presenting any or all of these described symptoms, that may well NOT be the case.  Ask yourself, “What is the problem in that whole list of problems that can only be handled by a skilled nurse, it would come up unexpectedly, and the nurse would be needed immediately?”  Answer:  None on that list.  And, even if your loved one needs a nurse, every LifeServices’ Community has a full time registered nurse available 24 hours a day, seven days a week.  At every LifeServices’ Community, your Dad would have his own Apartment Home, that’s respected as home.  Our trained Resident Assistants can help him with his dressing, bathing, grooming, and even toileting needs.  He would enjoy three meals a day, fine dining, in our Community Dining Room.  We would assist him with all of his medications, at any time, day or night.  If he demonstrates confusion, we are there to help manage his behavior, redirect him, or help him in most any way.  We can escort him in a walker or wheelchair throughout our Community, sometimes or always.  And, he still lives in his own Apartment Home and lives life the way he, and you, choose.  A quality of life, based on his own schedule, not “a facility’s schedule.”  So, what need for help on that same list can’t a LifeServices’ Community meet?  Same Answer:  None.  Call today so our Senior Living Counselor can help you and your Dad organize an individual plan of service and care that meets his needs, promotes his independence, and lets him choose how he leads his life.
Yes, all of our LifeServices Communities provide housing, services, and care to many older people suffering from this horrible disease. As to the question, “Is  a secure dementia unit my only option?”, our best thinking for you would be, “It all depends.” For some seniors struggling with dementia, particularly when the disease causes a behavior to willfully flee their supervised environment, a secure dementia unit can be a viable option that meets their care needs and still, technically, avoids institutional care.  However, our experience suggests that “many to most” seniors with dementia can live successfully within our LifeServices Community setting.  Our Communities have a number of features and service approaches that, when bundled together in a resident’s personal plan of care, serve as our Memory Care Program.Those features relate to the design of our Community, the types of apartment styles available,  and the training our caregivers receive in how to support residents with dementia related disorders.  Some of our Memory Care Program features include:

-Circular corridors in our Community that return you, when walking, to your point of origin, rather than a dead end that can confuse and agitate a Memory Care Resident;

-A beautiful, enclosed, courtyard, with walking paths, plantings, and flowering trees, that provide our Memory Care residents the “choice” to go outside anytime they desire, yet they are safe from wandering away from our Community;

-Deluxe Studio apartments that feature a living area, sleeping area, kitchenette, and private bath, so unlike so many secure dementia units that share units and showers, that provide just the right amount of space our Memory Care Resident can manage and live their life with independence, privacy, and dignity;

-Therapeutic activities specifically for Memory Care residents that are intended to strengthen them  physically, mentally, and emotionally as a viable member of our total Community rather than being segregated into a separate lock down unit;

-Delayed exiting systems on all of the exterior doors of our Community that open with a code, or after a period of about 12 seconds when pushed, that lessen the risk of a  Memory Care resident from wandering away; and

-Validation Therapy training for all of our caregivers that teach them the proper way to cue, prompt, and encourage our residents to remain calm  and function effectively in our overall Community, rather than basic reality orientation techniques that we believe can often frustrate and agitate our residents.
At LifeServices, we know for a fact what an  incredible job families, particularly adult children, are doing in supporting their parents who want to live in their own home for as long as they can.  And, we know that both the parent and the family want to avoid expensive and quality of life constraining institutional care to the greatest extent possible.  Yet, caregiving is an incredible strain on family members, often to the point it causes emotional and medical problems for the caregivers themselves.

That’s why considering a compassionate Community of care, like a LifeServices Community, can be just as important for the health and well being of the caregivers and other family members, as it is for the parent as well.  So often, families are not only trying as hard as they can, they are trying too hard at the expense of themselves and all of their family relationships, particularly with  Mom or Dad.

We encourage adult children caregivers to self reflect what their current situation is doing to them and their other loved ones.  Sometimes our parent can be so emotionally tied to staying at home “no matter what”, that they are in denial that home is really inadequate in meeting their needs and it is becoming an overwhelming and unfair burden on the family members who love them.

Older people never want to be a burden to their family.  And, older people always want to be as independent as they possibly can be in their daily lives.  Older people find that independence in their own private apartment home at a LifeServices Community.  And, family members have the burden of daily caregiving lifted from their shoulders so that they, too, can return to the other responsibilities in their lives.

Finally, so many family members tell us they are so glad they faced the challenge of encouraging Mother to join a LifeServices Community.  And, a major reason they are, after the peace of mind in knowing that Mother is getting the care she needs and living a quality life, is that they get to spend time with their parent, enjoying their parent, and walks in our courtyard, rather than spending that time in the day to day grind of daily care tasks at Mom’s home.  Call a LifeServices Community Senior Living Counselor or Community Director today to discuss how our Community can be an option, not only for  your loved  one, but for the whole family.  After all, it’s our residents, and our families, that are all part of a LifeServices Community.
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