When to Consider Moving to a Senior Care Community
Good morning, and thank you for joining this week’s Home Downsizing Solutions interview series. I am Ben Souchek with Home Downsizing Solutions, and today I have a special guest, Steve Kuker with Senior Care Consulting in Kansas City.
Steve, welcome to the interview series this week.
Thanks, Ben. Thanks for having me on. I appreciate the opportunity.
Absolutely. Today we’re going to talk about something that I think is a pretty common question probably, but you can confirm this for me. When should a person consider moving from their house, that they’ve maybe been in for a long time, to a senior care community?
Signs When A Person May Need To Move To A Senior Care Community
Well, I’ll tell you that’s a great question. It’s actually probably the most frequently asked question that I’ve had, literally, since 2002, since starting Senior Care Consulting.
There are some signs that it may be time to move, and I would look for some subtle changes. Well, let’s face it, maybe some of these aren’t so subtle, but a decline in hygiene, just not as well-kept as your loved one has always been, and maybe not as well-dressed, and not showering as frequently, and that sort of thing. That’s a little bit of a decline. That one’s probably a little more subtle.
A decline in their physical environment, so not keeping up with the housekeeping. Maybe their house has always been just perfectly clean, and now it’s not.
Not keeping up with home repairs or the lawn, or keeping up with their car.
Withdraw from social engagement, such as meeting with friends, going out to eat, maybe going to church. So just kind of a withdrawal for some of the things that they’ve always enjoyed doing.
Then memory-related issues. It may be small, or it could be very glaring, but just forgetting how to drive to a familiar place, not remembering how to make your favorite dish or how to bake your favorite cookies, forgetting the names of family members. Those are a few signs that I would try to take note of.
When To Consider A Move To A Senior Care Community
Okay. Kind of going along with that question, and hopefully this isn’t a redundant question, but when should someone consider moving to a senior care community and really looking at whether they should make that transition?
You know, sometimes it’s very, very obvious, and I would say more often than not, it may not be so obvious. I think some things could trigger that conversation between family members.
Number one, and this is solidly number one, if there’s a safety issue involved, so it’s just not safe to live in your house anymore. Leaving the stove top burners on is a real common example.
Wandering away from your home and not finding your way back, or maybe driving away from your home and not finding your way back. That triggers a silver alert that we see a lot in the news these days.
Malnutrition and dehydration, so just not eating properly.
Again, I touched on this earlier, unsanitary living conditions due to neglect, injured at home, frequent falls, frequent hospitalizations, not taking your medications properly, or maybe falling victim to elder abuse.
Those are some of the examples of safety issues.
Number two, I would call this a very close number two, maybe a 1A, is when the caregiver’s health and wellbeing are in decline. We’re talking about your mental health, your emotional health, spiritual health and physical health. You place your own needs on the back burner. You skip your doctor’s appointments and your dentist appointments. You skip social events. Now this is for the caregiver. You skip your social events, like your book club and gatherings and going to church. You put everything to the side to pour yourself into being a caregiver for this person that you love so much.
What happens is, stress is a very powerful force. And, unfortunately, I’ve seen a lot of caregivers pass away due to the crushing stress of being a caregiver and just not taking care of themselves, pass away before the person that they’re caring for. So that has to trigger that conversation. When you see someone really drowning in this, you have to reach out and you have to talk about that consideration of moving to a senior care community.
Number three, when the cost of in-home care becomes too expensive, I’m a big fan of home care services. But if that need elevates to the level of 24-hour in-home care, you could be talking about $14,000 to $18,000 per month and that just may not be affordable for very long.
Care Manager vs. Care Giver
Then last, but not least, if you just can’t provide enough care, why not consider changing your role from being the hands-on caregiver, being the care provider to a care manager. Meaning find a great place that can provide the care, and then you can transition your role into your traditional role, back to the loving spouse, to loving son or daughter or grandchild, like I was, and just manage the care. Make sure that your loved one gets everything that they need. So those things should trigger that conversation.
Sometimes I’m sure a person can do more for a person they’re caring for as being that care manager versus trying to do everything themselves and just being completely overwhelmed at some point.
No doubt. You need respite care, you need some breaks, and you need family and friends to help out. Again, you may need to hire in home care service to help out. But at some point you just have to take care of yourself and you can’t let that go too far.
I’ve seen the worst of this situation where the caregiver did pass away, and multiple times passed away before the person they’re caring for, and now you defeat the purpose. You’re not here to make sure that they’re cared for, and you can’t let that go on very long. You have to get help.
Steps To Transition To A Senior Care Community
If a person decides that, okay, it is time to make that transition from a house that they’ve been in, for who knows how many years, to a senior care community of some type, what would be the typical steps that a person would go through to go from the thinking-about-it stage to that transition into a senior care community?
Well, once you’ve chosen your place and you’ve done your homework, and in some other videos, we’ll kind of break that down in some of our other videos, but once you’ve chosen the place, I think a lot of people are surprised that you have to be accepted into this place. So the community representative will need to conduct an assessment to ensure that you are the right fit for their community.
They’re going to want information from a recent doctor’s visit. So if you haven’t had a checkup in a year or longer, you’re going to need to get to the doctor and get an annual checkup, physical. They’re going to want to know history and physical, and this is all from your doctor’s office in your chart, nursing notes, therapy notes, if that’s applicable, your medication list, a list of diagnoses. If they have a financial application, then they may need copies of some financial documents from you as well.
Then you will definitely want to have your legal house in order. So they’re going to want copies of power of attorney documents, and they’re going to want a living will. So you’re going to also want a power of attorney for healthcare, power of attorney for finance, your living will, which would express your wishes in advance of the time to make those decisions. Then most senior care communities are going to want these things, a DNR and some other legal documents on file when you move in.
Then determine your furnishings and determine the space that’s available and figure out what you’re going to take and what you can’t take, or you don’t want to take. Also, determine the clothing items that you will want to take. You’re also going to want to decorate your space. Whether it’s an assisted living apartment or a room in a long-term care community, decorate your space and make it your own, and that will definitely feel more like home. It’d be more of a comfortable environment for you.
Then you just move in. You give it some time. It’s a big, big transition for all parties, including the staff. They’re going to try to get to know you and try to figure out what you like, what you don’t like, you’re an early riser, you’re a night owl, all of those sorts of things. It’s a big transition, but most people are surprised that once they give it a chance, it usually, not always, but almost always works out really well.
Benefits Of The Right Senior Care Community
Assuming they picked the right place, I’ve certainly heard the accounts myself when a person that has been in their home, especially if they’ve been alone in their home for a while, that when they moved to the right fit for a senior community, they’re much more active, and they just have a more full life.
That’s a really, really important point. Most people dramatically undervalue socialization. So if, say your spouse has passed, you’ve been living alone, you’re isolated in your home. You think you’re doing okay, but not really.
Then when you move in, you’re around other people, you start to open up, and you really start to improve your quality of life. Socialization is a really, really big deal, and I think most people don’t even think about it much, frankly. So, that’s a really good point.
Absolutely. Steve, thank you for joining me today. I know that that’s a lot of great information for someone that is considering selling a house and moving to a senior care community. Like you mentioned, we will be doing a series of these with different topics on the transition to a senior care community.
So if a person likes what you have to say and would like more information for what you can provide for them, where is the best place that they could find you?
Sure. Online at SeniorCareConsulting.com. You could also reach out by phone at (913) 945-2800.
Also I have a radio program, Senior Care Live. It’s on Talk 980 AM in the Kansas City Market, Saturday mornings at 11:00. You could stream it live through seniorcarelive.com or through some of the podcast platforms. So lots of ways to get in touch, and I’m always happy to visit with someone to see if I could help.
Absolutely. We’ll put your links also in this story or wherever anyone will see this interview.
So we’ll put your links in there as well.
Great. Appreciate that.
Thank you, again, for joining us here today, and have a great day.
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