Touring Assisted Living as a Life-Style Change

Portland and its surrounding area have its share of well-run and attractive Assisted Living communities. Some are situated within a campus type setting; others are well planted in nice neighborhoods and/or close to well-traveled thoroughfares or shopping centers and restaurants.

While touring with a family last week interested in relocating their parents it struck me how overwhelming it can be for a family to not just see one, but three Assisted Living facilities in the same day. Expecting to tour more than 3 – one after the other is – unrealistic. This family was prepared and had great questions of the administrators and their community resource directors.  After even the second one they were exhausted from so much information being thrown at them.

This is not just a walk through buildings– it’s a life-style change for your parents, even if they have asked you to start the process for them.

You and your family or a very close family friend know and understand the life-style your parent(s) is/are accustomed to. Do they enjoy the city with its hustle and buzzle? Or a neighborhood with tree lined sidewalks? Or an area with a wide open view and that country-like feeling?

Are they social butterflies belonging to social clubs close to their own home and are looking forward to having friends and acquaintances drop by to visit them in their new digs? Do they belong to a specific church in their own neighborhood?

Sit down with Mom and Dad and ask them what they are envisioning and what their wants and needs are and are they financially capable to pay the month to month costs and for how long?  Unless you understand exactly what they have in mind, you’ll be returning glassy-eyed, very tired and totally stressed out.  Even though I have been through every Portland community numerous times,  know the questions to ask and what to look for, I was totally exhausted.

Any move is stressful no matter what age we are. For seniors it can be traumatic, if not approached step-by-step to get used to the idea – even if they are all for it.

In my next blog I’ll address – “this is not a planned move – what now?”

Monika Gärtner
Senior Care Coordinator
Care Service Options, Inc.
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The Growing Face of Assisted Living Communities

Have you noticed on your daily drives around the Portland metro area how much we are being reminded that we are indeed a Graying America?   Besides the billboards promoting the latest medications or remedies for our aging bodies are the increasing amount of signs promoting another Assisted Living Senior Community.  Even in our stressful economic times,  senior facilities continue to enter into our neighborhood districts and change our Portland area skylines.  How will these new communities impact us now and in the future?  Will our kids one day suggest one of these places as our new home?

Numerous questions arise in my mind as I drive by these senior communities –  where are the corporations and investors coming from?  Are they really able to fill up all those suites and remain financially sound?   Who are they employing?  How will my kids, or my spouse, decide when I need to move out of my comfortable home and into one of these places?  How will they choose?  Will they get help from an experienced senior placement specialist or will they simply pick the one closest to them out of convenience?  What will these places cost us not only financially but as a society?  These and other questions drum out the radio news of our economic downturn.

In the coming weeks and months I will be exploring answers to some of my questions and hopefully also yours.  As I passed by one newer communities this morning next to a Retirement Home I stopped in and picked up a glossy brochure from the adjoining for that new assisted living next door.  As I waited for someone to help with my inquiry and glanced around the lobby filled with seniors waiting to get on an elevator, I wondered how many of them would be “aging in place” across the street.  How many of them will even be able to move next door?  Will their retirement income and social security survive long enough?

What are your thoughts and experiences of Assisted Living in our community?  How has it impacted you or your friends or family members? I am anxious to hear from you as I explore and ponder the many questions of what may end up a part of my future.

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