You know the game show Family Feud where they ask 100 people a question and you have to guess their responses? Well, here’s one for you.
Top five answers on the board:
What excuses do people give for not looking into assisted living sooner?
- Too much to do
- Don’t know what to look for
- Plenty of time to do that later/ Will do it tomorrow
- Don’t need it yet
- It’s too uncomfortable to talk about
We get it. Researching assisted living can seem overwhelming. It’s easier just to wait, right?
And that’s where you’d be wrong.
Because, while those may be the top excuses, it doesn’t mean their good ones. After all, as Benjamin Franklin said,
“You may delay, but time will not.”
So let’s play again with a better question. This time,
Top 10 answers on the board:
Why do you need to start your search for Assisted Living NOW?
1. The Waiting List: i.e. “Call Ahead Seating”
It’s like those nights when you finally get a chance to go out, and you arrive at the restaurant to find the line out the door.
Doesn’t it feel great when you can say, “I called ahead”?
Suddenly you’re at the head of that line, sitting with your family, enjoying the food you’ve been craving.
It’s the same with assisted living facilities. Waiting lists are a frequent part of finding good care. But just like with restaurants, you can cut the wait with call-ahead seating when you get Mom’s name on the list before she needs it.
You figure you’ll just cross that bridge when you come to it? Put her wherever there’s space? You might get lucky with your timing and be able to walk in just when you need it. And it might just happen to be the place that will fit her needs.
But more often than not, you’ll end up at the corresponding fast-food restaurant eating a soggy burger from the drive-thru.
That probably isn’t a gamble you want to take on your mom’s well-being.
2. One Size Doesn’t Fit All
Finding the right assisted living facility can be like finding the right pair of jeans. It takes time.
And just because Aunt Sally loves wearing the latest designer pair doesn’t mean it’s a good brand for your mom.
It’s the same for assisted living.
- Facilities come in small, medium, and large, meaning how many people they can house.
- But they also differ in wear ’n tear. How hardy will her support need to be?
You might not know what Mom will need yet, but researching levels of Assisted Living Facilities now helps you understand your options. So when she needs it, you’re ready to go.
Also, within the levels of support, individual facilities can cater to different needs, i.e. what they accentuate.
It’s why two people wearing the same size still can’t wear the same jeans. Pants come in different cuts: Relaxed, straight fit, boot leg, or loose.
In assisted living facilities? It’s known as specialty programs. Client groups. Does she suffer from memory loss, depression, mental illness, or frailty? You’ll need the best place for her body type.
And if you’re completely confused by what you’re seeing in the mirror? Sometimes you need a professional stylist. Call us at Frontida, and we’d be happy to help you figure it out. (You may not choose our brand, but we can talk you through finding one that fits Mom well.)
3. Take a Tour
Ever bought something online, but it looked completely different once you held it? Then you had to go through all the pain of returning it.
That’s why you need time to explore assisted living facilities up close and personal. Websites rarely tell the whole story. And once you’ve moved Mom in, it’s a whole lot harder to move her out.
Visit several places so you can compare. Check out their food, their atmosphere… Are the residents smiling? How about the workers? For other things to look for, read our tour tips post.
Yes, it takes time. But seeing options before you need them can help make later decisions so much easier.
4. Mom Probably Has Thoughts on the Matter
Think for a moment if it were YOU that needed assisted living. You’d most likely want a say in it, right? As least as much as possible.
I bet your mom feels the same.
Yes, somewhere down the road you may have to make a lot of decisions for her. But before that happens, take time to find out what type of assisted living she would want.
It might seem uncomfortable to talk about, but, in reality, you’re treating her with respect. Just like you would want someone to do for you.
So ask her before it’s too late.
There may come a time when she can’t tell you.
5. Change Takes Some Getting Used to
What if, when you ask Mom, she says she doesn’t want to go? Well, then you’ll know. You might need to think of other options.
- Would she want an in-home nurse?
- Would she want to move in with you?
But sometimes the problem isn’t assisted living. Sometimes it’s just the thought of change altogether.
After all, who really likes change? (Just think of the commotion when we lose an hour in the spring!)
But with time to adjust to the idea, Mom might feel differently. Especially if you let her take the tours, too.
She might see other people her age in the facility who can remember the same TV shows, the same songs, the same games. And she might begin to see that alone at home is lonely.
But sometimes 180-turns don’t happen overnight. Starting early lets her decide how she really feels.
6. Take It for a Spin
Since your checking things out now, you have time for a trial run. Let Mom stay there for a few days. Respite care allows her to stay temporarily for up to 28 days.
If she likes it, great! If she doesn’t, you’ve saved yourself some time down the road.
7. You Have to Read the Fine Print
There’s going to be a contract. And you need to know what’s in it.
- What does the base cost cover?
- What would be considered an add-on?
- What are the house rules?
- How can you break the agreement?
Reading through everything now lets you digest it all. You might even want to have a lawyer look through it with you.
But. If you wait till the last minute?
Acckk. Brings back all those high school nightmares of cramming the night before a test, hoping you understand what you’re reading.
8. Your Sister’s Gonna Want to See it
Decisions like this don’t just affect Mom. They affect the whole clan.
And starting early gives your siblings a chance to be comfortable with the move.
This isn’t just about giving them peace of mind. They might see things that you miss. Let them take the tour, read the contract, talk with other families who have loved ones there.
And if your sister lives out of town, it’s going to take time to arrange. So planning ahead gives you all a chance to make it work.
The early bird here doesn’t just get the worm. He also gets the peaceful family nest.
9. Accidents Happen
If Mom falls and needs someplace to go next week, would you be ready?
Sadly, most assisted living placements happen in a crisis. And many people have done little to no research beforehand.
You guessed it. Mom ends up in whatever place you can find fast, without the benefit of tours or trials or time to carefully read the contract. (Remember that soggy hamburger drive-thru meal from #1?)
In Author Karen Lamb’s words, “A year from now, you may wish you had started today.”
10. You Don’t Know What Tomorrow Brings
When it comes down to it, all those excuses that put off looking into assisted living? They each bank on one thing: Tomorrow.
But if there’s one thing 2020 taught us, we don’t know what tomorrow will bring.
As Saint Augustine said, “God has promised forgiveness to your repentance, but He has not promised tomorrow to your procrastination.”
What happens if you do the research, take the tours, and put Mom on the waiting list, but a spot comes open before she needs it?
That’s an excellent question to ask the facility.
At Frontida, she gets the “first right to refusal.” She can let the next person on the list go ahead of her, and she can wait for the next opening. She doesn’t lose her place in line.
And if she never needs it?
Well, then you can rest easy knowing you would have a place if she did.
You understand you need to do assisted living research, but COVID has you asking new questions about safety? Check out these 5 Things to Know about Assisted Living during a Pandemic.
Elizabeth Daghfal is a writer, teacher, speaker, and community volunteer. When she isn't teaching or writing-- Who are we kidding? Her husband and five kids say she's ALWAYS teaching and writing. She has a passion to help people who are struggling and is happy to say her shoulders are drip-dry. Born and raised in the South, she now lives in Wisconsin and loves it--except for the fifteen months of winter. Read more about her at elizabethdaghfal.com.