The start of a new year is the perfect time to take the reins on a decision you’ve been putting off. For many seniors, and relatives of seniors, this means deciding to join a senior housing community as well as choosing the right one.
This can be a monumentally difficult decision, which is why you might be avoiding it. But it’s 2015 and it’s time to get past that procrastination. Here’s how to do it.
If you and your loved one are still undecided about committing to a senior housing facility, visit a family doctor or a geriatrician. Even if you’ve done this already, a refresher will help—especially if a year has passed since your previous talk. Ask the doctor what kind of care you or your loved one will require in the future. Compare this with your current level of care, and consider the risks of inadequate health support.
If you’ve visited a few facilities already but you still can’t quite decide which one is right, you may just need to expand your search. While we have handy checklists of things to look for at senior housing facilities, nothing compares with the “click” of being in the right place. If you or your loved one haven’t found that yet, maybe you should reexamine your requirements. Traveling a greater distance may be worth having a better living environment.
However, if you have visited numerous facilities and still can’t decide, the problem may be internal, not external.
Making tough decisions is mentally exhausting. That’s not just conjecture—it’s science. Studies indicate that our brains can get tired, just like a muscle—the more we push it, the more fatigued it becomes. Decisions can make our brains tired, but when our brains are tired, we make less rational choices.
So when you’re looking for the right senior housing facility, be aware of your mental state. If you’re feeling exhausted, take a break and return later (some researchers have found having a sugary snack or drink can help fight mental fatigue). Know that scouring through a checklist while touring facilities, talking to directors, evaluating costs and researching housing options can take a mental toll. When irritation or tiredness starts to set in, take a step back. You might make a bad decision—like ruling out an otherwise good facility—if your mind is tired.
Delaying an inevitable move to a senior facility can be harmful. Your loved one, if she is living alone, may fall and cause an injury because of a lack of assistance. Other actions, like monitoring medication or getting proper meals, can also become health risks if ignored. Going through the difficulties and dangers of living without 24-hour assistance may be enough to generate a sense of urgency to make a decision.
Senior facilities aren’t grim, sterile places. They’re full of activities, people, shopping and good food. Getting to a facility before nursing care is required can mean a better experience—the ability to live out the golden years by making new friends and enjoying everything the facility has to offer.
This year, make the decision to do what’s best for you or your loved one. Make 2015 not only a new year, but a new journey.