Is it time to consider assisted living for my elderly mother?

2 answers | Last updated: Nov 30, 2016
Slinkycat asked...

My elderly mother living alone, has numerous medical problems including anxiety disorder. She is fine when feeling well, but uncontrollable when falls ill. Is it time for assisted living?

Expert Answers

As Founder and Director of Circles of Care, Ann Cason provides caregiving, consulting, and training services to individuals and public and private organizations involved in eldercare. She is the author of Circles of Care: How to Set Up Quality Home Care for Our Elders.

Thanks for writing.   What makes this situation so distressing is the change.  Sometimes your mother is fine.   Sometimes she is uncontrollable.   That type of switching back and forth  keeps everyone off balance.  

Bringing balance is the task. Will assisted living be able to assist you in this endeavor?

  • Start with yourself.  What kind of support will you need to keep balanced so that you can help.   Pay special attention to your diet and excercise.   Tell your family that you will need extra understanding during this time.  Perhaps you will need a support group or counselling session to lend extra ears or shoulders.
  • Check with your mother's doctor.  Can the anxiety be treated?  Does she see a geriatric psychiatrist?  Is there a pattern to her anxiety?  Can you try to find the triggers and avoid them?
  • Do research on assisted living.  Visit at least three facilities.   Be sure to accurately describe you mother's behavior so they will be able to assess.  You don't want to end up moving your mother into assisted living and then having to leave to move into a higher level of care.
  • Try to deepen your communication with your mother.  Ask her, gently if she is anxious about her medical situation.  Tell her that you are worried about her, that you love her, that you want to be able to talk about what is bothering her. 
  • Finally then, when you have the information gathered, from a balanced state of mind, you will be able to decide if assisted living is right for your mother.


Community Answers

Jeannetta answered...

I believe communication is the answer. You need to get to know your Mom as an elderly person, not just Mom. Then talk about it with her. My Mother put herself in a retirement Home because she felt it was too inconvenient for my sisters & me to have to keep checking on her. She was diabetic & had a leg taken off above the knee. She was living alone at the time. I mentioned going to a Nursing/Retirement/Assisted Living Home because I'd done some volunteer work there & knew it was one of the best. I understand that most Homes welcome visitors so if you don't have time to volunteer, make several visits & get to know some of the volunteers before you recommend it to your Mom. My Mom moved into the Nursing Area but was so independent & helpful to other patients that they put her in Independent Living & she administered her own insulin shots. She also became a regular volunteer. Jeannetta