Here’s what you need to know.
By Godwin Dixon, Co-Founder & Co-Owner at Teresa’s House
Moving a loved one into Assisted Living or Memory Care can be one of the most positive experiences for you and your family with a little preparation and the right team in place. At Teresa’s House, we work with families every day to give their loved ones the very best care so they can relax and just spend time together. 70% of those 65 and older will need long-term care in their lifetime, and planning can make all the difference.
It Starts with a Conversation
If your parents are struggling with activities of daily living (ADLs), it’s time to start actively looking at care options. Care doesn’t look the same for everyone. Having a plan before a crisis hits is crucial to a smooth transition. This means having conversations with your parents or loved one to understand their wishes. The more information you have, the better decisions you can make together.
Here’s what you need to know going in:
- Who are your parents now?
Who are their friends, who do they want to keep in touch with? What do they enjoy doing and how do they define quality of life?
- What problems are your parents having now – heath, financial or otherwise? Do they have the means to get the care they want and need?
- What are their expectations for caregiving?
Do they expect you or one of your siblings to care for them? Are they planning on in-home care, or would they consider a high-quality senior care community?
- Who are their doctors and what does their medical network look like?
When your loved one is ready for long-term care, it’s important to know their current doctors so you can communicate with them if necessary.
- Where do you find important documents in a crisis?
Do you have the information and access to make sure the bills are paid, or know how to call the lawyer in an emergency?
- What are their wishes for disability or end of life decisions?
It’s ok if they don’t want to talk about it, so long as you know where to find the information if you ever need it.
Putting Together the Care Team
Caring for a parent can be hard. Everyone has to work together to ensure success – which means you have to put together the right team. At Teresa’s House, we’re here to help avoid burnout and stress by supporting our residents, their families and the entire care team.
Here’s who you need on the team:
- Your parent or loved one who needs care
He or she is a vital part of this team. If they agree to and support the care plan, the likelihood of success is greatly increased.
- Siblings and other family members
Family members need to be included, even if they are not the primary caregiver. Getting consensus within the family or support system may involve some compromise, but it is always worth it. We are happy to have conference calls with the entire family so everyone can ask questions and be a part of the decision-making process.
- Medical Professionals and caregivers you trust
This can make all the difference. Ask them to be honest with you and ask what they would do for their own loved ones in a similar situation. These relationships should be positive and supportive at every step.
As the primary caregiver, you are the most important advocate for your parent or loved one. You are an important member of the medical team. Be positive, productive and chip in as needed. You might need to help even in a care setting, if and when your parent goes through tough times. Helping is important and can also be very rewarding when done with a group of caring professionals.
- Your personal support system
This is so important. It can be hard being the primary caregiver to a loved one, even if you have fantastic assisted living and memory care support. Find people you can rely on when you need a break.
It’s time to make the move. Now what?
When you and your loved one feel it’s time for long-term care, and you’ve decided to find an Assisted Living or Memory Care community, here’s what to look for:
- Staffing Ratios.
This is probably the single most important indicator of a safe environment. The last thing you want is for your parent to need assistance and be unable to get it because there aren’t enough staff members to go around Teresa’s House averages a 1:5 ratio because we will not compromise the comfort, health and safety of our residents.
- On-Site Nursing, 24/7.
Your parent may not need to see a nurse every day, but when they are ill ill, has a fall or needs a little extra care, having a nurse on-site 24/7 is truly critical. Knowing they are there gives you incredible peace of mind. Many places have a nurse a few days a week, or only during the day. It’s important to know who the nurse is, when they are on-site (and how long it takes them to get there if they aren’t onsite) and how to get in touch with them. Teresa’s House features a nurse on-site 24/7 but that is not the norm.
- Certified Medication Aides (CMAs)
Highly trained and state certified medication aides can be the difference between life and death. Improper dosing, giving the wrong medication, and missing a dose can be life-threatening to seniors in care, and one of the best ways to prevent it is hiring only certified, licensed or degreed staff.
- Certified Nurse Aids (CNAs)
Like CMAs, CNAs have extra training that ensures they can adequately care for seniors. At Teresa’s House, our CNAs are hand-selected by our co-founders, Teresa Whittington, RN BSN, and Godwin Dixon NFA, and are among the best of the best in their field.
- Small House Design
The advantage of small house design in long term care is two-fold. First, with fewer residents, staff is able to provide better, more attentive care, activities and focus. Secondly, there are fewer people coming and going, greatly reducing the risk of illness in a pandemic. Teresa’s House is one of the only communities to have never had a resident COVID case.
- Homelike Environment
When you visit, look around. Are residents in their rooms? Sitting and staring at the TV all day? Or are they relaxed and enjoying themselves and their housemates? Does it feel cold and corporate, or warm and inviting?
- Visitation Rules and Procedures
Can just anyone walk in or is their security? Can you come any time? Are there different rules and procedures because of COVID-19?
We designed Teresa’s House to be the very best senior living community imaginable. We created something really special, where residents could thrive, and their families could sleep at night knowing their parents would be safe and loved. We help families navigate this process every day and give guidance even if we aren’t the right fit. We want to help you get the best care and support possible for your loved one.
Give us a call today or schedule a visit and see what makes Teresa’s House such a wonderful place to call home.