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Where to Begin

We understand that researching senior living options for your aging loved one can feel like a daunting or overwhelming task, but as senior living experts we would like to assure you that it can become a very enlightening process. Oftentimes, the first steps on this journey can be the most difficult ones, so learning how and where to begin can make all the difference.

Which Senior Living Option Should be Explored?

When it comes to senior living, there are multiple lifestyle options and levels of care from which to choose. This can make it difficult for those who may realize that a transition is in their loved one's best interest but may become overwhelmed by the breadth of choices. Here are three of the most common options and the situations for which they are best suited.

Independent Living

This lifestyle option offers the resident an autonomous lifestyle similar to that which they experienced prior to moving, but with many significant benefits including the elimination of home maintenance and upkeep. Taking care of one's home can become increasingly physically challenging with age, and it can also demand a significant amount of time that would be better spent enjoying their retirement. Independent living provides the freedom to pursue interests, hobbies, and friendships in the safe, comfortable, and well-maintained environment of a senior living community.

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Assisted Living

This option provides a lifestyle similar in autonomy to independent living, but with additional support from trained senior living professionals with activities of daily living. As people age, their needs change, and they may require assistance with daily tasks such as bathing, grooming, dressing, eating, or using the restroom. Assisted living provides this kind of support while allowing the resident to continue enjoying the best that life has to offer and getting the most out of every day.

Is it the right fit for you?

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Memory Care

More than 6 million Americans are diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease, and even more are affected by other forms of dementia. While this can be a frightening experience for both the individual and their loved ones, the right memory care program can help minimize the negative effects of dementia and memory-related issues to allow the beauty of life to shine through. The memory care option within a senior living community provides a helpful structure and routine in a safe environment that helps prevent injuries, wandering, and isolation while striving to maximize our residents’ quality of life.

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Tips for Having the Conversation With Your Loved One

People often make the mistake of bringing up senior living without first becoming familiar with what all the term entails, how much it costs, or which lifestyle option is best suited for their loved one. Discussing senior living without being prepared can cause resistance on the part of your loved one and even create more questions than it answers. Please take a look at the previously listed levels of care above to help understand the differences between independent and assisted living as you are making your decision, or take this short assessment to help identify the potential care that is needed.

Reviewing services and amenities is important in making sure that your loved one can lead a comfortable and fulfilled life. Be sure to check out photo galleries and social media pages for a candid look into the kind of lifestyle available. Be sure to read online reviews, too, to get a glimpse into what other families have experienced.

We know these can be tough conversations. Our team wrote this blog, How to Bring Up Senior Living, to be a resource to you and your family.

It would be nice to remain autonomous for the entirety of one’s retirement, but the truth is that most of us will experience changing needs that require an additional level of support at some point or another. Because of this, it is recommended to bring up the subject before it is needed. This can eliminate some of the tension from the conversations later on when the need becomes more pressing. It is recommended that adult children ask their parents about their future plans and wishes so that they can be sure to take the right actions should something ever happen. Be sure to express that it is a decision to be made together and that their wishes, wants and needs are important. No one likes being told what to do, especially when it comes to major life milestones. By creating an ongoing conversation both parties have the time and space to formulate ideas and arrive at the best decision together. What’s more, you will be on track for a smooth transition when the time comes.

Having the Conversation With Family Members

It’s important for families to get siblings on the same page about the next steps to help ease the transition and minimize conflict. This can be a sensitive and complicated task, whether due to volatile relationships, geographical distance, differing opinions or varying relationships or facetime with the person. Oftentimes, one sibling winds up becoming the effective caregiver for the person—generally the one that lives nearest or spends the most time with them. They are often the person who first realizes the need for a lifestyle transition. This can be difficult to communicate to siblings who are less involved, live farther away, or are less likely to perceive or understand the need.

The caregiver should call a family meeting to address the topic and prepare by gathering anecdotes or evidence to support the proposition. Sometimes, it can be as simple as a heart-to-heart, but many are not so fortunate. If things get heated and anecdotal evidence isn’t enough, it can be useful to involve an objective third party such as a geriatric care manager. This person’s role is to use their education and experience in aging services to assess a senior’s individual situation and guide them and their family to the best outcome. They are generally social workers or licensed nurses who have no allegiance to senior care organizations and whose job it is to provide ideal outcomes rather than to promote one single solution. This can help the caregiver sibling credibility if their family member does indeed need a new situation, or conversely, it can reveal that the next step is not necessary at the current juncture. This way, each party is motivated to participate on the process.

Tips for Easing the Transition Into Assisted Living

Set up the living space and bedroom as much like home as possible, focusing on those things that are used every day. A favorite chair, pictures, a collection or a desk from home all make living in a smaller space feel familiar and like a safe harbor.

One of the most difficult parts of adjusting can be establishing new friendships. Just having a loved one at your side during dinner or another gathering in the community can open doors to conversation and foster socialization.

Texting or calling daily can ease the transition and remind loved ones that you have not forgotten them. Visits in person are wonderful, and don’t need to be long to bring joy.

Often, because we are not living full time with someone, it is easy to assume they are doing everything on their own. When they move into an environment that is designed for support, you may find out that there are several things that they are not able to do on their own, such as manage medications, monitor urinary incontinence, bathe safely, do household chores, or they may even have trouble walking to meals and activities because of mobility challenges. The first few months give staff a chance to get to know your loved one and give them the support they need to remain as independent as possible. You may even find that after time, and getting to know their new environment, they are thriving with less assistance.

Feeling at home will take between 3-6 months for most people, so be patient with the time it takes to feel at home. Once a level of comfort and familiarity with neighbors, staff and their new environment are achieved, they can truly begin to flourish.

Whatever the experts tell you, you know your loved one best, and are the best person to speak up when something is not right. Talk frequently with staff, not just when something is wrong, but also to express gratitude for what is right. Strong advocacy requires speaking on behalf or in support of your loved one when they may not be able to for themselves.

Making a move can be stressful for the entire family, especially when accompanied by resistance. The staff has a keen understanding of how to help make the transition better. Talk with the Community Managers for advice or the Wellness Director to figure out ways to integrate your family member into the community.

Make sure the staff knows the background, likes, dislikes, personality, and personal habits of your family member. Any information helps everyone have a better understanding of how to best come alongside.

The staff is a major part of your team of caregivers, and they count on clear, positive communication from you and your loved one. Work together to help transition through the difficulties. Recruit other family members, and even friends to be a part of the team also. Each person brings a unique perspective and richness to the relationships.

With all humans, kindness and gratitude pave the path for reciprocation. Although everyone is cared for equally and with excellence, a little kindness and gratitude make the transition so much more enjoyable for everyone.

Financial Consideration

The realization of a need for a senior living option is often accompanied by financial concerns on the part of the resident or their family. Below are a few resources for senior living financial assistance and eligibility:

What People Are Saying …

I would like to commend Cristwood Park staff on their efforts to protect themselves and their residents from COVID. It’s been a concern of ours since last March and we have been relieved to see so few cases in the Cristwood Park community. I would like to thank the staff and leadership for their diligence in maintaining good protocols throughout this pandemic.

CWP Family Member

CRISTA has been a warm, friendly atmosphere to be a part of these past two years. It encourages friendships that encourage a pleasant living environment.

Marty Victor, CWP

Exceptional personalized holistic care. Helps keep Mom’s mind active and she flourishes with the nurturing care. Especially of value currently given the COVID restrictions. We are genuinely pleased with our mom's care.

Resident's Daughter, Memory Care

Thinking back on all the great care you and your team have given her at CRISTA, we thank you for all that. I am sure it made a difference in the quality of her life.

I appreciate the personal relationship I have with the staff and the good communication they give me.

I am so stunned by all the amazing people who live at CRISTA. The depth of their stories, their experiences are so powerful. They are fascinating and I learn something new every day! Such a wealth of intellect, experiences, and fun loving people. I love living here.

We’d Love to Hear From You!