I Have Fallen and Need Some Help

What you NEED to Know about Senior Living ( Assisted Living) Part 2

April 27, 2023 Erin Thompson
I Have Fallen and Need Some Help
What you NEED to Know about Senior Living ( Assisted Living) Part 2
Show Notes Transcript

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Hi, and welcome back to another episode of the, I have fallen and need some help podcast. Where today we're going to continue to talk about. My, one of my favorite topics, which is senior living. And focusing in on the assisted living, which is where I spent the majority of my career inside of an assisted living and memory care community. So when people. Nonchalantly referred to assisted living. They typically mean memory care and assisted living because memory care is considered an assisted living, but more like a specialty care type assisted living. But you can. Bring those two, separate those two out and say, I'm just talking about assisted living or I'm just talking about memory care. So today we're strictly going to talk about assisted living. Not necessarily memory care because to me that's a whole separate. Entity that requires its own podcast. It's one of my favorite places to work in for many different reasons. But we're going to talk about assisted living and I will loop you in if the same rules apply for memory care. I love assisted living. I love memory care. I love assisted living. I love senior living. It is literally where I spent my entire. Or it will just say the last 20 years of my life and had life not been what it was. I probably would still be inside of the assisted living senior living realm. But here I am starting a podcast, educating families and doing what I did inside the communities. Anyways. So it still works for me. One of the biggest misconceptions. And one of the biggest heartbreaks for me is when family members. Feel as if they're failing their loved ones. When talking about. Senior living. When talking about moving a loved one into an assisted living community. When you when we talk about independent living, most residents move themselves into independent living. It's something that they want to do. There's that social aspect that they wanted to partake in. It doesn't necessarily have the same connotation as assisted living or memory care or nursing home. And so when family members would come and tour. They would sit down and you could almost feel. The shame, the guilt, the fear, all the things that come along with having to make those tough decisions. When you promise to loved one, that you would never move into a nursing home. Well, I'm here to tell you that assisted living is not a nursing home. It is not, it's very different. And it can be very luxurious. It can be very customer service oriented and it can be very, very life-changing. Uh, it, is not failure. It's not automatic failure. It isn't. To me. If I had to define what failure was in caring for an elderly loved one, because I did, I cared for my grandmother for 15 years. And I have. Had the. I have the gift of being able to look at her life five years before she moved into assisted living and her two years of life inside the assisted living. And I would tell you. That her life was much more robust, much more full, much more, uh, happy. Inside the assisted living her last two years of life than it was five years before that. Inside of her apartment by herself. So I would tell you. That isolating your loved one inside of their. In their apartment or of their home. Is much more defeating. Then it is moving them into an assisted living community. So it is not failure. I don't. Like, I would just want to scream it from the rooftops. It is not failure. In fact, it is so much fun. There's so many things that changes the dynamic. From. Not being in control when you were in living in a house and you can't handle all the things that it needs to being in absolute control. When you move into an assisted living community. It, it just doesn't compare. So if there's one thing that I can do. That. Would be my mission. It would be to help family members know, moving to a senior living community is not failure. You have to be able to choose the right one. You have to know what you're looking for. You have to know. That there are humans that work inside of senior living. And so therefore it's not 100% perfect all the time. But it is not an automatic failure. It just isn't. So that's my mission. And I hope that through the course of this podcast and many others, and following me on social media, that you too can feel the same way. If you have to. Embark on the senior living. Journey with your loved one. Like I said, humans work in assisted living. I ran great assisted livings. We were high performing teams. We had great surveys. We had surveys that we needed to learn from. My grandmother lived inside the community that I worked at and then another manager's mother lived inside of our community. Uh, we were not perfect. And we knew where the dirt was instill are our parents and grandparents lives were changed. I mean it wasn't perfect. There were mistakes made. There were people that probably shouldn't have said what they said when they said it. There were meals that my grandmother would not eat. Those things happen. That happens. That will always happen. There are many reasons why that happens. So it's how we react to that. It's how we advocate for our residents in our loved ones for that. And it is. Looking at the entire picture perspective. Senior living has taken a huge hit since COVID. And so things are very different today than they were three, four years ago. And it's coming back around and it's trying to redefine. The industry as a whole. How do we get people to stay and work here? How do we get people to be passionate about doing the right thing? How do we motivate people to know that we can make a difference? And how do we add value to people who are caring for our loved ones? All of these are very valid questions. All of these are questions that you could ask on a tour. You know, how valuable do you think that your associates or your employees think they are since they're going to be caring for my loved one? Those are important questions. And things that you can do as a loved one of somebody living inside of an assisted living community. Because when you realize that. These caregivers are just people who want to feel valued too. You can easily add value to their lives and just acknowledging them and thanking them. And. Giving them a sweet compliment every time that you're there. That adds value. That. Brings forth confidence. And a mutual. Positive relationship between the family, the resident and the caregiver. You'd be surprised at how. Good. That works. And I'm going to do a separate podcast on that because I have seen the good, the bad. And the really ugly when it comes to that. And I think it's definitely worth sharing. Uh, with everybody. So. Yes. People are scared to move loved ones into assisted living. And yes, I have heard, I don't want them to know that I complained because I don't want my mother to bear the brunt of this complaint. And I can't tell you how many times I've heard that comment and it breaks my heart. That that is what happens in that thought process is still there. And I'm sure in some places that there has been an element of retaliation involved, but in the communities with a good leader, with a good. Culture. Communication is important and we would expect that level of communication. So. Look for that. When you tour, how do they treat you through the tour process? Do you talk to other managers? Are you being introduced to people and that will help you appreciate whether or not they have good communication inside of. Their. Processes. The community. Because communication is the hardest aspect of life. Isn't it. It's the details that make things. Beautiful. Right. I heard someone say Disney, it's all about the details, right? I mean, it's about, that's how important. It is to make the magic happen. It's the details in. It's hard to communicate the details when you have a large community. And it's hard to communicate those details when you are moving a loved one in, so the more. More communication that you have with the leaders inside of the community, the better. And the more communication you have with the caregivers who are caring for your loved one, the better. Because then it feels like a team. And that's one of the best aspects about moving a loved one into senior living is that you do have a team. You do. And it's a great team. The average stay inside of an assisted living community is around 22 months. Which for my own personal story to share, my grandmother was there for about. 20 somewhere between 18 to 20 months. And I have seen residents be in assisted living for 10 years. Which is a very long time. And I have seen assisted living residents move in and not even be able to stay for 30 days. So it's really hard to. Say exactly. What to expect. But one of the best pieces of advice that I have, that I've given lots of people who try to plan for someone to stay. Inside of the community for 10 years. Is to here's our 10 year viewpoint. I wanted. Scooch it down to here to where if we can take it six months. To a year. Because then it doesn't feel so overwhelming from a financial standpoint, it doesn't feel so overwhelming from. Just a life standpoint. Because anything can happen in a day, right? I mean, like life can change on a dime, so. Planning something out as critical as. How long will this person stay inside of senior living can get very overwhelming and decisions. We'll be made based on whether or not there's a financial ability to afford it for 10 years. Five years. Those length of stays happen. But your average length of stay. It is two years or less. So I would have always said, let's just take it six months to a year. Because anything and a lot can happen in six months. And that way it gives you plenty of time to plan for. The next phase. If, if there ever is a need for a skilled care type of stay. That's not assisted living. One of the. Barriers to assisted living is that it is private pay. Now there are states that do have Medicaid waivers. There's a lot of states that have Medicaid waivers and there's a few states that do not. So know whether or not your state takes Medicaid waivers for assisted living. And if they do, I'm sure it is not. An unlimited supply. And figure out how do you get on a waiting list for that? And then which communities take Medicaid waivers? And I've spoken to a few communities in different states where they felt as if the. Process of moving in. Getting people to choose their community is a little bit harder when they are Medicaid waiver. Communities. And I want to say to that. There is something about being able to know that you're moving your loved one into a community that will accept Medicaid waivers. Because one of the hardest things for me. In my career and I have worked my entire career in the state of Alabama. Is that when. The money did run out for people. They had to move out. And I hated that feeling. I hated that feeling. But in some states, You can choose a community. That. Will allow you to stay with a Medicaid waiver. That. To me is beautiful. A, from a personal standpoint, had Alabama paid. How or had the ability for a Medicaid waiver? My grandmother would have been able to afford assisted living on her own. We as a family had to create. Well, I'll just say my aunt. Paid for the majority of her stay inside of the assisted living community and in a different state. Medicaid waiver could have been used. That would have been nice, certainly for my aunt. Right. But also for other families who had multiple children. Paying for their parents to live inside of an assisted living community. So no, the Medicaid rules in your state and embrace the idea. Of choosing a community that accepts Medicaid waiver. Because if you have a hundred thousand dollars or less inside of that, We have to pay for assisted living. Then you might be able to stay at one place. Because having to move your loved one. From place to place is disruptive and not necessarily in your loved one's best interest.'cause moving can be traumatic for people. Whether you physically can handle the move or you struggle with anxiety through the move. Or just getting comfortable in a new situation is hard to do in general, especially if you're 85 plus, right. So look closely at the communities that offer the Medicaid waivers and just think of it from the perspective that. It really is a blessing. And could benefit the entire family. If you choose that community. Assisted living at the beginning was built on this social model aspect. One of the aspects of that social model is that a nurse is not necessarily required for residents inside. Of an assisted living community. Think about that for a minute. In most states. Nurses are not wired. Now I'm talking about a traditional assisted living. I'm not talking about memory care, assisted living, but in assisted living. At the beginning. It was strictly social model. We're going to help you with your activities of daily living. Uh, we may assist you with your medications. But we're not going to do skilled care type of needs because that belongs inside of a longterm care community. But. As times have changed rules have changed. Each state has its own set of rules and who makes those rules is depending on the states. Set up in Alabama, it said barman to public health and other states. It could be the department of public health or other type of agencies that make the rules. For instance. Um, the state of Florida allows puree diets inside of a memory care. And in Alabama they do not. So that changes the type of resident who can move inside of an assisted living or a memory care in Alabama. And it opens up who can move inside of an assisted living or a memory care in Florida. So it's two completely different things. So it's two completely different set of rules that serves two different types of residents. But getting back to the nurse. Right? So in assisted living technically. A company could get away without having a nurse. Most companies have a nurse, whether the nurses, the administrator, or the resident services director, but most companies do have a nurse available to their residents, but not 24 hours a day. And so family members can get confused as to exactly what an assisted living. Can offer their loved ones. And that's important for you to ask. You know, do you have a nurse? How often do you have a nurse and what does that nurse do? Because most assisted living communities. Have med techs. Give the medication, not necessarily nurses. And this is something for you to really think about because in the hospital, nurses are giving the medication. And in nursing homes, long-term care communities. Typically you see LPN or nurses, RNs giving medication. New rules have been made to wear med techs, licensed medication. CNAs basically can give medications. The same thing goes for assisted living. And in some states, memory care too, and Alabama nurses in memory care, give meds. It's all very confusing. I know. But these are things for you to think about and for you to really understand about senior living and where a lot of people get kind of confused. Because nurses are not required. Or available 24 hours a day inside of senior living. Certain. Skills certain care needs cannot be met appropriately inside of an assisted living community. And different licenses. That the community has, will prohibit whether or not skilled care needs can be given. So that is the difference between assisted living and a long-term care setting. Long-term care would be nursing home, skilled care, whichever you want to call it. Those terms are typically interchangeable. But that's the main difference. Yes, as the baby boomers come, or as rules have to be looked at, there will be some loosening of the rules potentially. And. The new face of a resident will, will emerge. And we'll see if the industry can, can change with the times, but for now, There is not a nurse. For the most part required in assisted living. It's just the way it is. The activities of daily living that assisted living was built upon, right? Our bathing, eating, dressing, transferring and toileting. Okay. So if you need help, Getting to the bathroom. You know, transferring from the toilet on and off, going to the bathroom, transferring in and out of the bed. Um, getting dressed, whether it's just picking out your clothes or just kind of assisting you with your clothes to literally putting and doing it all. Um, Without the help of the resident. Or, just needing that extra hand while you get out of the shower or while you're in the shower, that is what assisted living was made for. And the main part of assisted living was the social aspect, which is your activities program, which to me is the personality of your community. And if you're on a tour, they should be showing you the activity department and they should be bragging about that activity department and how everybody is involved with it, because that sets people apart that sets the competition apart from each other. And of course your loved one has to like activities. Right. When you tour and you tour specifically for your loved one and maybe the activity program isn't necessarily their number one top priority, but if it is, you want to make sure that you get to see that activity program. When your loved one moves into an assisted living community, when you make that choice. There's this concept that. You do not have to be as involved. But that's not necessarily true. I believe. That when your loved one moves into assisted living. You turn into. An advocate for them. You turn into being the captain of the team. Of the people who are caring for your loved one, you still have to make the decisions. You potentially still have to go to the store for them. If they don't want to go for themselves. You have to still be involved in some aspect of their life. And the really cool thing is. Is that they. Will love to show you off. Because of the season of life that I'm in. I am a mother of children who are 11 and seven, and I have a special needs child. And I have a typical child. When I go into their schools, they are so happy to see me when I'm going on a field trip with them. They are so happy that I'm there. And it, of course it makes me feel like a million bucks. Right. When you have a loved one, move into assisted living. Or memory care. The joy that they feel when you walk in to visit them. Is very similar to the joy that you feel when you're, when your child sees you at school. They want to introduce you to their friends. They want you to be a part of the activities. They want you to come and eat lunch with them. They want you involved. Now sometimes they don't want to see you until after the activities over. And if they do, you are successful, you have chosen the right place, right. But they want you there. And. It's really cool and neat. And, inspiring for me to see. That happen. When you go from being nervous and scared and your loved one is resentful of you. To all of a sudden your loved one is at. Half or all of the activities and there welcome you into the room and they're showing you off and they're inviting you to lunch. And they're talking about all the wonderful things that they're doing. And they don't want you to come until the activities over. That makes me know that I did my job. And that should let you know that you have done your job. Because my best saying is all that's required is your best. And when you see your loved one thriving in a social situation. You've done your best. It is. Awesome. One of the best things. For me was to see the transformation from isolating grandmother. To a very social grandmother. Who. Was upset was never going to let me know that she was happy, but I saw that she was happy. And that's where that phrase, actions speak louder than words comes in. Right. When you know that they're involved. More than they say. And you know, that they're happy and it doesn't matter what they say to you. Because. You see it? That is powerful. When they go from being isolated. Little confused. bored depressed, potentially too involved, having friends getting dressed. To eating in the dining room to, in wanting to invite you to eat. To. Potentially having a little bit of a special friendship with somebody. Um, Those things are amazing. And you're not going to find them. Inside of a house all alone. And you as the elderly caregiver can not always be everything at every moment of every day as a parent. That is true for me. And it's true for you as a caregiver. So. Senior living is not failing your loved one. Senior living. Can be honoring who your loved one was. When they were in their prime. There's a lot of fun, a lot of life. And a lot of value that senior living brings. Just as a recap, senior living is not failing. Assisted living has different regulatory rules and each state. So ask. What those rules are before any kind of final decisions are made. If you're moving across the state lines. Assisted living is. Was built on a social model., focusing in on those activities of daily living, but as times change. More care needs can be met and some more in other states than less. Assisted living is primarily private pay. But there are states with Medicaid waivers. I do not rule out communities with Medicaid waivers. Because consistency is important for your loved one, especially if you know that. They only have a limited amount of financial resources. And don't look so far into the future that you miss your opportunity to change your loved one's life in the short term. So. Kind of narrowing that focus for six months to a year, knowing that the average stay inside of assisted living or memory care is less than two years. I hope this helps. One of my next episodes will be my personal story with my grandmother. And, um, her stays inside of assisted living and her eventual. permanent stay inside of assisted living. I want to answer all your questions about senior living assisted living. Memory care, all the things that I can. So if you have any questions that you want me to answer or topics that you want me to talk about, please. Message me. Reply to this video. Um, Let me know I'm here to help. That's my goal. You can follow me on social media. On Instagram and Facebook, and you can find me on LinkedIn as well. Thank you for your time today. I appreciate you spending it with me.