Posted December 16, 2006

Usually when someone calls me looking for senior living I simply ask them what the situation is and let them talk. (and talk and talk if necessary!). Many times I can glean most of the information I need to determine what the current level of care will be and what they might be looking for in a senior living building.

However, I don’t always get the WHOLE story so it is up to me to probe to make sure we make the right choice. Some of the other questions I might ask or you might ask yourself are:

1. Is the senior driving? (And should they be driving?)
2. How is their memory? Are they wandering and unsafe? Confused? Repeating the same stories or
questions over and over? Forgetting to eat or dress or take medications?
3. Is the person ambulatory? Do they use a cane, walker or wheelchair and do they need help
transferring out of a bed or chair or off the toilet?
4. What is their age? Some buildings are age restricted.
5. Can they bathe on their own? Do they currently bath with assistance in a tub where as a walk in
shower with shower seat might allow them to bathe independently?
6. How are their eating habits? Are they diabetic? On any special diets? Are they skipping meals or
failing to make meals and losing weight?
7. Can they manage their own medications from order, to picking them up to taking them on time?
Do they just take pills or are they also using eye drops, patches and injections?
8. Can they dress themselves? Are they wearing the same clothes all the time, even if dirty or are
they not even changing out of their sleepwear? Are they grooming themselves? How is their
hygiene? Is the hair and makeup still getting done or have they given up. Do they need a shave?
Are they caring for their teeth properly?
9. Are the incontinent? Bladder or Bowl or both? Are they managing it or does a caregiver have to
help them change or notify them they have had an accident?
10. What social activities do they enjoy or did they once enjoy?

After asking that many questions I not only get a much clearer picture of where they might go to get the best care for them, but it also helps the family to think of issues they may have been ignoring.

It’s the answers to those questions that help us determine if independent living, assisted living or supportive living would be best. It also helps us determine the cost involved. For example, if I had found out the person was diabetic and needed assistance with injections, then that would require a nurse in the building 7 days a week to do the injection. Either they move into independent living and hire a nurse to come in a do it (very expensive) or they choose an assisted living building that has nurses on duty at least 12 hours a day, 7 days a week. Also, nurse administered medications will cost more than just having a medication care manager remind you to take your pills.

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