The Enid News and Eagle, Enid, OK

March 30, 2013

A family decision

Making move to assisted living can help keep independence, relationships intact

By Bridget Nash Staff Writer
Enid News and Eagle

ENID, Okla. — We all spend a lot of time making our houses into homes, and one of the hardest things to do is decide if is time to leave our home and find another.

The decision to move into an assisted living center can be a difficult one but, for many, the move can enhance family relationships.

“Assisted living helps the families,” said Brittany Conner, community relations director of Greenbrier, which offers a variety of care, including assisted living.

In an assisted living environment, residents have a large measure of independence with the security of knowing help is there when they need it.

Each assisted living center has its unique approach but residents of any center can be assured their medications will be on time, healthy meals will be prepared for them and they won’t have the stress of tasks such as lawn care, laundry and housekeeping.

“Assisted living is unique in the services it provides, and each assisted living center is a little different,” said Samantha Wegmiller, RN, BSN, nursing home administrator of The Commons, which houses Trinity Place Assisted Living.

“Someone might just need meds, meals and security,” said Wegmiller. “Assisted living, for a family, is really about the security and the peace of mind.”

Someone who cares for an aging family member may sometimes feel a level of guilt, thinking he or she is not devoting enough attention. Between jobs, housework, errands and other obligations, many worry they aren’t succeeding in caring for aging family members.

“(In assisted living) they will know Mom and Dad are still being taken care of, and they are still able to live on their own,” said Linda Decker, RN, BSN, nurse administrator of Golden Oaks.

Those living in an assisted living environment still have the freedom to visit their family. In fact, they have basically all the freedoms they had before moving into an assisted living center.

“They can go on vacation,” said Decker. “They can pretty well do what they want to do. Go to church, go to a church group, go to the Gaslight Theatre.”

Conner said the staff at an assisted living center also can help the residents communicate with their families by updating them about doctors orders or alerting them about any changes.

Assisted living residents can focus on their lives without stress.

“They can come into assisted living and flourish,” said Wegmiller. “It’s not about losing your independence. It’s about being able to do what you want to do. I would suggest for seniors who are looking potentially at assisted living to really look at how do they want to spend their time? (In assisted living) they can off-load some of those daily stressors. Today, it’s about living better longer. Live life and not worry about it.”

Assisted living is less expensive than many people realize.

“Assisted living tends to cost less than skilled nursing,” said Conner.

There are also numerous social activities available, and not only for the residents.

“We offer activities and events the families can participate in,” said Conner.

Families also can visit and eat meals with residents or reserve a room and have a family gathering, said Conner.

Wegmiller said another type of relationship that can be enhanced by assisted living is the spousal relationship.

When one spouse becomes the caregiver of the other spouse, the relationship changes, and it can be stressful.

“It can even compromise the health of the well spouse,” said Wegmiller.

While the idea of moving into an assisted living center can seem intimidating, the basic thing those considering it should remember is not much changes.

“They just need the security of someone being there if they do need help,” said Decker.

Many living centers for aging citizens offer several tiers of service so a resident can move comfortably from independent living to assisted living to skilled nursing, all in the same living community.

Wegmiller suggested anyone considering assisted living research their options and view the surveys required by the state on each center.