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Senior Health: When to talk to your loved one about assisted living

Your mom still lives in the house where you grew up. It’s filled with memories of family and friends. You know your mom loves that house. But today she said something you’ve never heard her say before: “Sometimes I feel like this house is too much for me.” Maybe it’s time to talk to your mom about moving to an assisted living facility.

What’s assisted living? Assisted living facilities are like apartments for older people who are having some difficulty living on their own, but who don’t need the intensive care of a nursing home. Assisted living facilities offer efficiency apartments with the necessary support services to help seniors retain their independence in an environment conducive to their needs.

The best time to talk to a loved one about assisted living is before it’s necessary. AARP offers these tips for starting the conversation:

• Mention a friend whose parent needs in-home help. Ask if that kind of help has crossed your loved one’s mind.

• Express concern. “I worry about you carrying laundry up and down those stairs.”

• Ask if your loved one feels overwhelmed by housework and yardwork.

• Ask your loved one if he or she feels comfortable behind the wheel of a car. Has he or she ever considered senior taxi or van services?

• Ask if your loved one has ever thought about living somewhere else.

Assisted living might be a good option for a loved one who:

• Cannot take care of a house and yard;

• Is unsteady on his or her feet;

• Has difficulty driving or isn’t a safe driver;

• Has a chronic condition like diabetes, arthritis or emphysema;

• Has poor vision or hearing;

• Doesn’t have a nearby support network;

• Is vulnerable to telephone, computer or door-to-door fraud;

• Has difficulty with personal care and grooming;

• Has difficulty with housekeeping tasks and/or doing the laundry;

• Has a need for socialization.

Unless you have serious safety concerns, it’s OK to drop the subject if the talk doesn’t go well. You can bring it up again later. In the meantime, research resources in your loved one’s area to help him or her remain in the house. An additional source is

Where to go from here: Valley Residential Services is one of several area providers of senior living with the necessary support services to allow residents to retain independence within a community. Call (315) 219-5700 extension 3239 for more information.

Christine Shepardson is Director of Community Life at Valley Residential Services in Herkimer. VRS is part of the Bassett Healthcare Network.

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