Part 1: Informed Decisions
By CarePatrol of Northern DE & South Chester County
Information is Key
There is no question that an informed decision is far better than an uninformed decision. It is a process that usually begins with gathering relevant information. Moving to a Long Term Care Community (LTCC) is a very complex decision coupling objective considerations like cost and location with subjective considerations like appearance, amenities and ‘feel’.
Even the term Long Term Care Community is confusing since there are many different types of LTCCs. Independent or Assisted Living? Assisted Living or Nursing Home? When are secure Memory Care Communities necessary?
Many seniors who have moved into LTCCs, especially when still active, love it. There are few responsibilities, great amenities, delicious food, clubs, excursions and loads of social activities in a beautiful, well maintained community where you will make new friends in a place that becomes home. I’m 61 and at some of the places I’ve seen, I’m like: Sign me up!
Full disclosure: CarePatrol requires their advisors to be local experts on these communities. We help Seniors and their families navigate this entire process so we've toured these communities and have a feel for them. We know their cost, we're familiar with their amenities and we understand their business models.
We have information.
Most seniors do not. Most families do not. In its place, many have dreary memories, which are almost universally unpleasant, of a 20th century nursing home with all the associated sights, sounds and smells.
As a result of that and other factors, many seniors are resistant to even considering the idea of moving to a LTCC. Perhaps their resistance is based on their personal experiences, a mistaken belief, disturbing stories they've heard or simply a refusal to come to terms with the reality of their own unsafe living situation. Sadly, many seniors insist on staying at home in what, to outsiders, is clearly an unsafe situation; one where an accidental fall and other undetected event can easily result in life-shattering consequences. Unfortunately, outsiders seeing the unsafe situation does not always translate into the senior accepting that reality.
This series of articles is not meant to suggest, in any way, that every senior needs to move to a LTCC - far from it. Many are fully capable of living a full and joyous life in their home - at least for now. My mom lived in the same little house she and my dad bought in 1950 in Madison, NJ for 60 years; more than one-third of that time alone after my dad passed away. It was her home, a special place filled with joyous memories and she loved it there. Between 2000 and 2010, she began having 'events' (i.e. falls) of varying severities but each time my brother or I brought up moving to a LTCC, it was met with a firm “no”.
But my mom was nothing if not practical and in 2010, one last fall changed the firm no to “I guess it’s time”. So she moved to a LTCC, where she lived until passing in 2019.
Looking back through the lens of experience though, I am not sure it was the right community for her at that time. We made the decision based on one single criteria - location - because all communities are pretty much the same, right? Wrong!
We didn’t even know Independent Living was an option, much less be aware of the significant differences between IL and Assisted Living. IL would have suited her better at that point but we did not have the information needed to choose as wisely as possible.
The fact is that when you make decisions without all the available information, you can only stumble onto the best choice by luck and this is not a decision you want to leave to the changing winds of fortune.
What is being suggested is that as you see increasing signs in yourself or a loved one that a move may be for the best, whether that day is tomorrow or 5 years from now, educating yourself on the available options and connecting with experts who can help you properly prepare for that day is both wise and prudent. I hope you find the information presented to be helpful and remember - CarePatrol is here to help at any stage of that process.