Sometimes a Smaller Environment is Best

I like to write about real life experiences, issues and concerns that I’m helping people with on a daily basis. So the point of this month’s article is simply if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it!
I recently found a lovely adult family home for a lady who was living in her own home alone, isolated and deteriorating rapidly. Her appetite had diminished. She was sun downing (a symptom of Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia. Confusion and agitation worsen in the late afternoon and evening, or as the sun goes down.) There were times she was unresponsive, lethargic and depressed. Does that paint a clear enough picture? She needed to get the heck out of her home and be with people- socializing, sharing meals with others and back to living!
The family called me for a reason. They felt that I knew a thing or two about how well elderly people do when moved to an assisted living, adult family home or a memory care. They knew they needed the guidance of a professional. I don’t think they ever denied the fact that I had answers for them, but it was hard for to make the move. That old denial and guilt was holding them back. They were dragging their feet as their mother sat alone in her home, declining. There were family members who felt she needed to be in assisted living when it was clear to me she needed more of an adult family home surrounding. The primary caregiver made the decisions. She was moving to a lovely country setting-an adult family home. There were three other ladies there that she could get to know. They shared their meals around a big table in the kitchen. She helped fold laundry, assisted the others in a small way, baked cookies, participated socially. She liked the activities and began to smile more. She was eating the meals, gaining some weight and life was better for her. She had found three new friends.
Her sisters were not so sure this was the place for her. They were convinced that she was made to work folding laundry and that’s not what they were paying for! How could they give her jobs to do? Didn’t they have enough help to do them? Didn’t they pay enough money for the home to hire people to do this? They felt she needed more social activities, more people around her, events to attend and trips to take. They decided she should move after 90 days of finally settling in. They wanted to move her to an assisted living community. They reserved a lovely studio apartment, moved her personal belongings in the apartment and there she sat behind a closed door- no more people sitting around the table drinking tea or coffee to visit with, just her all alone. Back to isolation and loneliness. Confusion returned again-not knowing how to turn on the television or worse yet how to turn it off. What would she do all day in a room all alone? Boredom set in and she started going to bed after dinner at 6:30 at night. When she left her apartment to go find all those people she was told she could visit with, all the doors were closed. No one was in the lobby. She wandered the halls looking for a friend.
How could this be a better living situation for her? She hugged her friends when she left the adult family home. She’s wasn’t sure why her sisters moved her, but she loves and trusts them and did as they said. They liked the assisted living community she was going to. They liked the décor. It was pretty with such a nice large dining room and a lobby with a fireplace. She would meet so many more people and there was so much more to offer at this nice community. All the reasons they liked the home……but what about her? They assumed she’d do well, like the surroundings better and have more fun.
They were wrong. It isn’t always about how beautifully decorated a community is. It isn’t always about the fancy calendars that are posted all around. It isn’t always about what someone else thinks is best, it’s about what is best for the individual. Every person is different, senior housing options are different. As Eldercare Consultants we work hard at trying to find the best fit for all of our families and clients. We have years of experience with working with all kinds of people and levels of care needed. We want our seniors to succeed and most importantly be cared for, feel safe and to be happy.
Author: Jill Bellis

Providing Guidance and Care Options for Families