Aimee Tillar, Founder and CEO of Lifesong Enterprises, Inc., posed a very interesting question to the National Senior Living Providers Network recently: “What are the top 3 questions or concerns that a family has when an aging loved one must make a transition in living arrangements due to declining health or ability to live independently?”
First of all, I love the way the question is phrased. It very correctly implies that the “transition in living arrangements” may not mean moving from the home of 30 years. It may mean continuing to age in place, with support for ADLs (Actrivities of Daily Living) and IADLs (Instrumental ADLs) from professional Home Care Aides and, potentially, home health providers.
In the senior care industry, we need to recognize that the likely first transition is the (often reluctant) recognition by the senior(s) and her / his family that complete independence is not realistic any longer.
That does not automatically mean moving to assisted living, or even a “retirement community.” I may be as simple as obtaining support for homemaker activities or transportation for shopping, appointments and so forth. Even when more personal care is needed, that is available, in the home, of course.
The key, in our view, is what we call an Advance Living Directive. This is a planning tool that individuals and families can and should use well before there is any need for home care or other transitions. It can be used, objectively and without emotional trauma, for advance planning, again, focused on ADLs and IADLs. We would love to have folks review and suggest ways to improve the tool. It can be found on our Website and discussed in this blog in several articles.
In our view, the answer to many of the challenges families face, concerning how to have “the” conversation with Mom and Dad or how to deal with the need to make a “transition” is to have those transition points mapped out, early, via the Advance Living Directive.