As we get older, many of us wind up living on our own. Maybe our kids have grown up and moved out of the house, or maybe a spouse has passed away. Whatever the cause, living alone has a certain independence that comes with it – you decide what you do and when. One of the saddest days families face, however, is the realization that a parent or spouse can no longer live alone safely. There are certain signs that can indicate living situation changes are necessary. These can include frequent falls, the inability to effectively manage medications, being isolated from friends and social entities, diminished driving skills threatening the safety of others, poor nutrition – such as eating mainly cereal and sandwiches – and chronic and frequent medical conditions affecting memory, functioning and balance.
"Families use many caregiving options to preserve the dignity of their loved ones and help them remain at home,” said Blount Memorial Senior Services coordinator and licensed clinical social worker Edward Harper. “A significant difference in family care today, however, is the duration and intensity of care. When families recognize that more care is needed, they often struggle with the decision due to a number of factors. The most powerful and limiting of these is the promise made to ‘never put their loved one in a nursing home,’” Harper added.
“When considering a care facility for a family member, you are making this decision based on safety and security,” Harper continued. “You are securing the care that no longer can be provided safely at home. No one is ‘putting’ anyone anywhere. This is a tough choice, which does not need guilt as an overriding factor,” he said.
Assisted living communities help people who do not require skilled nursing services to live safely in a secure environment. Benefits include daily care, assistance and social interaction, as well as medication management, if needed. In addition, assisted living helps reduce caregiver stress. “When a family member moves to an assisted living community, caregiving is not abandoned – it is changed,” Harper said. “And assisted living is not a nursing home, although some senior living communities offer higher levels of medical care within the same property or with other facilities,” he added.
Blount Memorial offers numerous resources for family caregivers and aging adults. For more information about assisted living options and to discuss a strategy of care, schedule a free Caregiver Consultation by calling Senior Services at 865-977-5744. To learn more about the assisted living and specialized care options at MorningView Village, Blount Memorial’s senior living community, or to schedule a tour, call 865-980-6000.