The decision to place your mother or father (or any relative or loved one for that matter) into an assisted facility is one of the toughest a person can ever be asked to make. It was certainly the toughest I’ve ever found myself faced with. It doesn’t get all that much easier once the decision has been made either.
Here I will share with you some of the feelings I felt when it came time to decide whether or not my mother should be placed into an assisted living community.
Choosing assisted living
Just the mere thought of relinquishing care of my mother to a living home filled me with dread. It filled me with dread to the extent that I adopted the ostrich approach of burying my head in the sand. It wasn’t just me either. The whole family was less than enamored with the whole concept. Looking back, perhaps the most level headed of all was my mother herself.
To give you an idea of the situation, here is a brief look at my family’s situation, at least as it was prior to the relocation to an assisted living community. My mother had led a relatively healthy life but time had caught up with her as it does so many others. She began to struggle with simple things like dressing and washing, neither of which was helped by the emergence of arthritis.
My wife and I both work while our children are away at college. My father passed away several years ago. This meant that my mother was alone most of the day, including early mornings and late-night time when assistance was needed the most.
As we discussed it one day the topic of assisted living was broached. The three of us (my mother, wife and I) discussed it for the first time. In order to make the decision the whole family needed to establish the benefits that assisted living may offer, not to mention the negative aspects for both my senior mother and our family.
The advantages of assisted living
As far as we could see, the major advantage was the care aspect on offer. Assisted living offered my mother the opportunity to have professionals assist her with things like dressing, personal hygiene and bathing. Following her move, I can confirm that these benefits have improved her standard of living. As has the daily medication round (she no longer forgets her arthritic pills).
Even to talk to now she is much more positive, and not just in regards to her health. The assisted living facility also allows her to engage in a lot of social activities. Just last week she went on a bus tour up the Pacific coastline with the other residents (who we hear more about now than anybody). Prior to the move she had simply stayed home reading or watching television.
From a family point of view, we feel much more comfortable knowing that she is safe, with somebody to look out for her in the mornings and evenings as well as people to enjoy the day with. We may feel comfortable but it’s not all positive (as you’ll see). It is however a load off of our minds, and I imagine the kids’ minds. We can see in her face that she is happy each time we visit her assisted living community, which leads us to believe we may have made the right choice.
The disadvantages of assisted living
In terms of the disadvantages of assisted living, it leads to a fair amount of loneliness and self-reflection. This is for both parties. While my mother is happy with the set-up she still misses being home with the family. Who wouldn’t? We visit at least twice a week (taking her out on a Sunday) but that is no substitute for real ‘together’ time. The same can be said from our point of view.
Not only do we miss her but sometimes we also feel a little guilty (me more so with her being my mother) for having sent her to assisted living. While logistically it was the best choice, offering the best opportunity for a good standard of living, you can’t help but question if there was more that you could have done. For example, could the assisted living have been conducted from our home?
Of course, I know the real answer to that or else the decision would never have been made. Ultimately I think that choosing assisted living was definitely the right choice in our case and I think it is for a lot of other people.