Understanding Senior Assisted Living

Time’s Ticking Away: 10 Reasons to Research Assisted Living NOW

Time’s Ticking Away: 10 Reasons  to Research Assisted Living NOW

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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 facilities 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 they’re 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?

Frontida Assisted Living Facilities, such as Frontida of Kimberly, a Senior Living and Memory Care Community, provide you with posts like this one to help you live your best life.

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 assisted living 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 perfect assisted living community 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.

  • 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 memory care 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 assisted living and memory care 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 out your assisted living facility options. (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 assisted living 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 assisted living and memory care 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 an assisted living facility. 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 to assisted living?  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 assisted living 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 being 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 you’re checking things out now, you have time for a trial run. Let Mom stay at an assisted living or memory care facility 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 assisted living 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 assisted living and memory care move.

This isn’t just about giving them peace of mind. They might see things that you miss. Let them take the tour of the assisted living facility, read the contract, and 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 assisted living 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.

Then what?

You guessed it. Mom ends up in whatever assisted living facility 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 assisted living 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 Assisted Living, 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 an assisted living or memory care facility?

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 questions about safety? Check out these 5 Things to Know about Assisted Living during a Pandemic., and contact us today!

Need to talk with family about senior living options? Check out these other helpful posts on choosing an assisted living facility.

A huge thank you to Benjamin Voros on Unsplash for the featured photo

Elizabeth Daghfal
• 6 min read

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.