Saturday, November 30, 2013

Eldercare Q-A: My grandma can't live on her own. How should we look for retirement communities?

My readers are getting younger all the time.  So are my clients.  It's not unusual for a grandchild to look into retirement or assisted living for Grandpa or Grandma.

Whether you're a Milllenial, a Gen Xer or a Boomer,  the information you'll need to help your aging loved one is the same.

You may be familiar with the SWOT analysis used by businesses in strategic planning.  S stands for Strengths, W for Weaknesses, O for Opportunities and T for Threats.  Apply that analysis to your loved one.  The following are sample responses; yours will be unique, guided by your knowledge of your parent or grandparent.

STRENGTHS (These are positive things about his or her living situation.  Here are some sample items)
  • Grandma has a strong support system of friends and relatives.
  • Grandma has a positive outlook on life.
  • She has been generous and hard working.
  • Her hobbies include knitting, reading and singing.
WEAKNESSES (These are things that need improvement.)
  • Grandma has lost weight and is eating poorly.
  • Since giving up driving,  Grandma has become isolated and seems lonely.
  • Grandma suffers from short-term memory loss.
  • Grandma is reluctant to take a bath, because she is afraid of falling.
  • She has fallen several times in the last six months.
OPPORTUNITIES (If positive change occurs, these are possible outcomes)
  • In a retirement community, Grandma will have a chance to meet people her own age and make friends.
  • In her new setting, she can enjoy meals in the company of others.
  • Structure to her day, such as exercises, meals, movie times, etc., will make her feel more secure.
  • Staff can offer support with bathing and with medication administration.
THREATS (What might happen if she remains in her current situation.)
  • She could continue to lose weight and become weaker.
  • She could fall and could lie on the floor for hours.
  • Her short-term memory loss could cause her to fall to prey to financial scams.
As you do the SWOT analysis, involve your parent or grandparent as much as possible.  As you look for a community, you'll want to find one that will play to her strengths, buoy her up in her weak areas, and give her new opportunities. 

You'll also want to think through key things such as location and affordability.  As you shop for communities, both online and in-person, use the information gathered in your SWOT to help make the best choice possible.  Good luck!

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