While the trend these days is for older adults to remain in their homes for as long as possible, aging in place may not be feasible for everyone, and assisted living may be the better option. We have some suggestions for making the transition to assisted living as easy as possible.
First, however, you may wonder when you should consider assisted living for yourself or an aging loved one. Here are a few scenarios that may indicate assisted living may be the right choice:
The decision to move into assisted living isn’t an easy one for the older adult or their family. But having “the discussion” doesn’t have to be difficult, especially if you approach it well in advance. Framing it in favorable terms and doing advance research can help make the discussion go more smoothly.
Addressing the issue sooner than later will also help, mostly because the transition to assisted living is more comfortable when your loved one is ready. And the best way to be prepared is to have given it thought beforehand.
Granted, making a will or planning for the possibility of assisted living can be uncomfortable to think about and easy to put off. But, it can be even harder for everyone when those issues are not taken care of before they’re needed. If you think about assisted living as an option early on, you can have time to look for a suitable facility – and to start saving, so having enough funding isn’t an issue.
Here are a few ways to help make the transition to assisted living a bit easier:
By choosing a facility in the community, your loved one will have access to the same doctors and services they use now. The area will be familiar, making the transition easier. However, if a parent is moving to be closer to their grown children, it’s not always possible to stay in the community. Weigh the advantages and disadvantages of both moving to a new area and staying in the same area.
Getting familiar with the layout, meeting staff and residents, and taking a few meals in the facility before the move will help make things familiar and make for a smoother transition.
Family members should be present and visit often, but avoid hovering – and allow them to adapt to their new situation. Everyone should give the process time: some people get used to change more quickly than others. At the same time, don’t expect it to happen overnight.
Having prized possessions will help make the new housing feel like home. If you have no one to help with this process, a service like ours can help clear the clutter, choose what to bring, and pack it carefully for the move. And we can help you unpack as well!
A new living situation brings with it the temptation to get new things for your loved one, but it might be best to hold off and not overwhelm them with strange, new stuff at the start. You can send care packages once they settle in, but the best thing you can give your loved one is time. Be sure to stay in touch and visit often.
There are usually many activities taking place regularly at assisted living facilities. Participating can help save off loneliness and isolation.
As an older adult facing a move to assisted living, the best thing you can do is be prepared and keep an open mind. Don’t be afraid to ask questions and try to be your own best advocate. And be sure to socialize with your fellow residents! They were the newcomers at one time, and they understand the apprehensions you may have. Making friends and staying active is the best way to settle into your new home.
* * *
When seniors are ready to relocate – whether it’s to downsize or move to a senior living facility – we know how overwhelming it can be! Our Specialists take the emotional and physical stress out of senior moves because they understand what it is like to move a lifetime of memories and possessions. Contact us today!
During the holidays people are supposed to be upbeat, right? After all we say, “Merry Christmas” and “Happy Holidays” and all is festive and bright. But that’s not the case for everyone. For some people, the holidays can be a time of stress, anxiety, sadness and loneliness – or the “holiday blues.”
That can be especially true with seniors. During the holiday, you may notice a mood change in your senior loved one. They may seem uninterested in the festivities, appear sad or tired. It may not be the holidays that are the cause, but rather, memories of happier times and things that were lost through the years. Or they may be suffering from Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD).
One thing that can cause depression during the holidays is Seasonal Affective Disorder. SAD is a major depressive disorder that recurs during a specific time of year. For many people, young and old, it occurs in the fall and winter when there’s less sunlight.
According to the American Psychiatric Association, SAD symptoms can be range from mild to severe and can include some or all of the following symptoms, similar to major depression:
Symptoms of SAD are treatable. Treatment includes light therapy, anti-depressants and/or talk therapy. People affected with SAD in the winter months usually see improvement in spring.
For others, especially seniors, the holidays can trigger depressed feelings. Often the festivities of the season can bring up memories of loved ones who have died, making grief over their absence more acute. A senior may feel guilty about enjoying the season without their loved one.
In addition, family members may live far away, and a lack of mobility may prevent travel, even locally. The lack of interaction with others can increase a senior’s feelings of loneliness and potentially lead to isolation.
Symptoms of the holiday blues include most of the symptoms of SAD, plus:
The depression may pass after the holidays are over. But there are a few things families, friends and caregivers can do to help in the meantime.
If the symptoms extend beyond the holidays, they may evolve into major depression or persistent depressive disorder.
Everyone feels sad at times and may experience grief or sadness. But that usually passes and isn’t considered depression. According to the American Psychiatric Association, depression “causes feelings of sadness and/or a loss of interest in activities once enjoyed. It can lead to a variety of emotional and physical problems and can decrease a person’s ability to function at work and at home” and lasts at least two weeks.
There are several types of depression, including:
Major Depression is defined by the National Institutes of Health as “Severe symptoms that interfere with the ability to work, sleep, study, eat, and enjoy life. An episode can occur only once in a person’s lifetime, but more often, a person has several episodes.”
Persistent Depressive Disorder, which is defined by the NIH as “a depressed mood that lasts for at least 2 years. A person diagnosed with persistent depressive disorder may have episodes of major depression along with periods of less severe symptoms, but symptoms must last for 2 years to be considered persistent depressive disorder.”
Depression is not a normal part of aging. In fact, most seniors aren’t depressed. According to the CDC, about 1% to 5% of those living in the community have depression. That number rises to 13.5% in those who require home healthcare and to 11.5% in older hospital patients.
Symptoms of depression are the same as those for SAD and the holiday blues, but last longer and may be more severe.
Depression in seniors can be caused by genes, brain chemistry and stress. Vascular issues may be to blame, as can other diseases, such as diabetes and Parkinson’s disease. Certain medications or combined medications can cause depression.
If you are depressed or suspect a loved one is suffering from depression, the first step is to see your primary care doctor, who can test for underlying physical causes and assess medication effects. Your doctor may refer you to a specialist, such as a psychologist or a psychiatrist.
Major depression can be treated with psychotherapy, cognitive behavior therapy, medication, or a combination of them. It’s important to know that depression is a medical disorder and not a sign of weakness. There is treatment available.
* * *
The experienced and compassionate staff at The Maine Move helps seniors and their families evaluate what the best living situation is for their unique circumstances. We offer a complimentary consultation where we can talk about your or your loved one’s health and safety needs, moving plans, and what services we can provide to make the transition easier.