My mother-in-law, Bonnie Marquis, passed away on April 5, 2017. She was 90 years old and had been married to my father-in-law, Jack, for 68 years. She passed in the way we all hope to leave this earth, in her sleep while napping.
Now Jack is left alone. He has dementia and needs someone with him 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
We knew keeping Jack in his home would be difficult to manage and very expensive, a situation San Diego County seniors and their families face every day.
So to ease the burden of care and to allow Jack’s financial resources to stretch farther, we chose to move Jack to assisted living.
Knowing all the care communities and care homes as I do, I suggested some places I felt would provide the type and quality of care Jack needed.
Jack injects insulin for his type 2 diabetes which limited our choices considerably.
Family members made several visits and chose one of the memory care specialty communities in the area. Jack moved in on a Monday and moved out the following Monday to a different place (no fault of the memory care community).
How things worked out with these two placements have taught me some valuable lessons.
As an assisted living placement specialist in San Diego County, my job is to refer families to care communities and/or care homes that are an appropriate match for their loved one’s care requirements, budget, location and other wants and preferences.
I also make sure the licenses of those care communities and homes are in good standing. My job is not to pick a particular place for a family, but to steer them in the right direction and to support them in their decision.
Lesson #1: When families are in a rush to place a senior due to the death of a spouse, an acute health incident or any other emergency, it’s challenging to make the right placement choices. Prepare in advance if at all possible.
Lesson #2: Evaluate all aspects of an assisted living community, memory care community or board and care home. The physical space should be pleasant, clean, tidy and free of smells, and the community or home must be licensed to provided the level of care the senior needs. In addition, the type and frequency of activities must be a fit for the senior moving in, and the other residents who live there should be a good compliment for the senior moving in. The last two criteria are easily forgotten in a hurried situation.
Lesson #3: Be sure to allow time for the senior to adjust to their new living and care environment, and for the new care staff to adjust to the resident’s needs. This may happen quickly in just a few days, or it could take weeks or months. Maintain consistent, positive communication with the care community or care home during this adjustment period.
Ultimately we chose to move Jack to a 6 bed board and care home that can provide for his level of care, is close to family, and has other male residents he can socialize with. So far Jack’s new home seems to be working out well, and I’ve learned some important lessons to share with San Diego families needing assisted living placement for a loved one.