The Transition from Home Care to Assisted Living

You’re at home with your loved one, curled up on the couch and watching TV. A commercial for an assisted living facility plays. Your loved one turns to you and half-jokingly says, “Never put me in a home, okay?” It’s easy to laugh this off when you are young and healthy but there may come a time when you have to have this conversation for real. There are several reasons that assisted living strikes fear in the hearts of so many and most derive from stigmas associated with those living in assisted care. Our minds make an immediate connection between old age and loneliness; sickness and death; and the loss of autonomy and freedom. An assisted facility seems to be the embodiment of those connections. The reality is that most elderly or sick people are place in assisted care because they are loved very much and their family wants to do the best thing.

The decision between home care and hospice or assisted living can feel like the toughest choice in our life. But it doesn’t have to be made alone. Involve your family members and friends, especially your loved one that requires care. This escapes the possibility of there being any surprises with your final choice. Your goal is to find the best quality of care that suits your loved one, and according to the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, “Quality of care means doing the right thing, at the right time, in the right way, for the right person, and having the best possible results.”

Use your best judgment when deciding if your loved one is in need of greater care. Look for signs of memory loss, confusion, frailty, and poor hygiene. Seeing your loved one at home is a good way to assess the situation. You may already be in the situation of home-caregiver and feel that your loved one needs more care than you can give. It is important not to feel feelings of guilt or failure—you did the best you could. By even allowing yourself to consider hospice or assisted living, you are clearly searching for the best quality care for your loved one. If you are overwhelmed and burnout you will have a hard time providing the same level of care and dedication as a professional facility. Ask yourself and your loved one, what are your social, emotional, physical, and medical needs? Your answers will serve as a strong indicator of the right choice.

Each living option has its advantages and disadvantages. In-home care (working with a professional caregiver) is often more expensive than an assisted living facility. However, in-home care will avoid feelings of displacement and abandonment. Take a look at a table comparing the two. Suppose you are thinking of moving your loved one into your home and hiring a caregiver when you are at work. Make sure you understand the changes your home, lifestyle, and family might have to make to accommodate your loved one. For example, if your loved one is wheelchair bound, can they move around your home freely? Also note that professional caregivers will likely work eight-hours days, leaving the rest of the care up to you.

Typically assisted living is the more affordable option but the cost will vary depending on the type of home and the amount of care needed. Take a look at CaregiverSupport.org to see what kinds of programs are available. Choose a place that fits the needs of your loved one as well as his/her wants. Does it feel like a good community? Are there activities available that your loved one enjoys? Is it located near friends and family? Help make a smooth transition to your loved one’s new home by assisting with packing up prized possessions, pictures of family and friends, comfortable clothes, and favorite decorations. Pay lots of visits in the first couple of weeks and then schedule a regular visiting time.

Emotions can be tricky at this stage. Your loved one may be grieving over moving away from a familiar place and you may feel guilty about making the choice. Be compassionate with yourself and your loved one. The passage of time and an open communication will help resolve the situation. Trust that you made the right decision and that your loved one is getting quality care.

Written by Alexandra Axel
Alexandra Axel was the first founding staff member at The Caregiver Space. As a New York native, Allie grew up people-watching and story-collecting, eventually pursuing her undergraduate degree from The College of New Jersey in sociology and creative writing. At The Caregiver Space, she worked with social media, graphic design, blogging, and program development to brand and grow an online community composed of, and focused on, caregivers. From the seedlings of an idea to the thriving community that it is today, Allie was there from the beginning to support the evolution of The Caregiver Space. Allie enjoys writing poetry and short fiction, devouring books, biking, crafting, urban agriculture and imperfectly cooking. She currently resides in Brooklyn with her pup, Hen.

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1 Comment

  1. Thank you for the advise. This is the hardest decision I have ever had to make. I love my mom with all my heart. I feel like I’m letting her down. Which is something she has never done to me. She worked 2-3jobs to raise our family. I feel I owe her everything. I will start to look at options this week. Again thank you!

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