How These Three Families Found Assisted Living to Be Different Than What They Expected

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If you haven’t been to an assisted living community before, it’s hard to know what to expect: Are residents told where to be and when? Are the staff just a bunch of Nurse Ratcheds? The mind can run wild with all sorts of assumptions. So we asked three families to tell us about their fears about assisted living and how life at The Arbors turned out to be quite different from what they expected.

Shirley & Ed

After 64 years of marriage, Shirley wasn’t about to be separated from her husband, Ed. But his memory loss was getting more and more difficult to manage at home. She knew they had to make a change. “I was dreading the move, though” Shirley admits.

 

R-E-S-P-E-C-T

Many seniors considering assisted living worry about the competence and trustworthiness of the staff. “I’d seen some of the other places,” says Shirley, who navigated the search for assisted living with the help of her and Ed’s six children. “And my sisters were in nursing homes. I know what they went through.”

When they toured The Ivy at Ellington, they knew they’d found the right fit. Not a single staff member was cold, heartless, or passive aggressive. “I don’t care who it is — it could be someone cooking in the kitchen — everybody is helpful,” Shirley says. “Everybody makes you feel like you’re important.”

 

Do Not Disturb

Many seniors, especially couples, who move to assisted living are also concerned about losing their privacy: Is someone always going to be up in my business about what I’m doing or where I’m going? If I want some alone time in my apartment, will it be big enough? Or will it feel like a closet? And do I have to worry about staff walking into my room without knocking?

Shirley was surprised to discover that, although she and Ed couldn’t fit everything they had accumulated over the past six decades in their apartment, it fit the most important things. “It’s like having your own house,” Shirley says. “We brought all our furniture with us. We brought the living room and bedroom furniture. We have a chest with a TV. I have my Polish pottery around. It’s like walking into a first-class hotel.”

And help is only there when they need it. Shirley and Ed live undisturbed in their own apartment, with their own private telephone and television. Although staff have access to the apartment for safety reasons, they must ask and receive permission before entering. Otherwise, the door to the apartment locks and is controlled by Shirley and Ed.

As Shirley and Ed have found, the goal of the staff at The Ivy at Ellington is to help them maintain their independence — not take it away — while enhancing their quality of life.

“I never thought we’d find a place like this,” Shirley says.

 

John, Christine & Aunt Margaret

Due to an unexpected death in the family, John and Christine became caregivers for John’s Aunt Margaret, and they quickly realized that Margaret wasn’t safe to live at home. Like many families, they hadn’t done any research into assisted living communities and assumed they would be just like the nursing homes or retirement homes of the 1960s. Says Christine: “I mean, the idea you have in the back of your mind of putting your parent in a home … ”

 

A Community, Not a Facility

Assisted living is very different from skilled nursing or nursing home care. Nursing homes are mainly for adults with serious medical needs that require attention from nursing professionals. And it’s true that the atmosphere might seem more like a hospital than a home.

When John and Christine toured The Arbors at Westfield, they were happy to discover assisted living is nothing like what they expected. “It wasn’t what I had envisioned at all,” Christine says. “The Arbors is like a home. I said jokingly to John, ‘If Margaret doesn’t like it here, I’ll stay.’”

Fortunately, Margaret does like it there. “I just took her to a doctor’s appointment, and she was singing in the waiting room!” John says. “She was talking about how nice her room was. It was beautiful.”

 

Ray

As U.S. Air Force veteran, Ray spent 40 years as a traveling electronics technician. Although he retired in 1987, he never really stopped working. He visited with people who were terminally ill at the hospital. He wrote three books, including one about dealing with the grief of losing his wife. And he spends lots of time with his grandkids.

A few years ago, he moved into a guest bedroom in his daughter’s house to be even closer to family. “But finally, I said, ‘I gotta get outta here. You have a life to live here. You don’t need me,’” Ray recalls.

He was worried about moving to assisted living, though: Was he still going to have a life to live? Or would he be giving his freedom away on a silver platter? And would there be anyone to talk to?

 

More Independent, Not Less

Many seniors worry about losing their independence once they move to an assisted living community. What Ray found was that The Arbors at Dracut staff work tirelessly to help Ray do whatever he wants.

“If I want to see a doctor, if I want to see the boss, I ask any of the attendants close to me, and they immediately stop what they’re doing and say, ‘Oh, I can show you that, or ‘Here, let me bring you to where you need to be,’” Ray says. “Never in all the time I’ve been here has anyone told me I can’t do something. They always say, ‘OK, I know someone who can help’.”

 

A Fountain of Friends

Because the staff takes care of the things Ray doesn’t like to do — cooking, dishes, laundry — he actually has more time to spend doing the things he loves. One of his favorite activities to participate in is the men’s lunch.

“A majority of the men are ex-service people,” Ray says. “When you get service people together, our mouths are always moving. We all have stories and tales. It’s great fodder for our conversations.”

When Ray isn’t busy with the activity programs, he’s thinking of the next book he’s going to write — and he has 50 people to brainstorm topics with.

“I enjoy the time with the people,” he says. “If you have a conversation with anyone here and you get bored, you’re the one with the problem. Everybody here to me is a fountain of information. I’m fortunate. I’ve made good friends here.”

There are a lot of misconceptions about what assisted living is and what it is not, and no assisted living community is the same. For answers to frequently asked questions about what assisted living is really like, download our comprehensive Guide to Assisted Living today.

 

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    This guide will go over what you need to know before you make a decision.


    NOTE: Your privacy is important to us. We’ll never share your details nor spam your inbox.

    Instant Access to Free Guide


    Are you considering assisted living for yourself or a loved one but are hesitant about the cost? Assisted living costs, services and amenities vary greatly among the last and most expensive communities, and costs are higher in some states than others.

    This guide will answer questions you may have about the costs of assisted living and recommend resources to help you pay for it.


    NOTE: Your privacy is important to us. We’ll never share your details nor spam your inbox.

    Instant Access to Free Guide


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    Often, many adult children avoid bringing it up because it can be a sensitive topic.

    This guide will provide you with helpful tips and insight on how to have a productive conversation with your parent and siblings regarding your parent’s future.


    NOTE: Your privacy is important to us. We’ll never share your details nor spam your inbox.

    Instant Access to Free Guide


    Difficult behaviors in elderly adults are very common. They may be an expression of frustration your loved one feels or a symptom of early stages of dementia or Alzheimer’s.

    This guide will provide you with skills and knowledge on how to handle difficult behaviors your aging parent may be experiencing.


    NOTE: Your privacy is important to us. We’ll never share your details nor spam your inbox.

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    This guide will provide answers to questions you may have on this topic.


    NOTE: Your privacy is important to us. We’ll never share your details nor spam your inbox.

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    NOTE: Your privacy is important to us. We’ll never share your details nor spam your inbox.

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    NOTE: Your privacy is important to us. We’ll never share your details nor spam your inbox.

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    NOTE: Your privacy is important to us. We’ll never share your details nor spam your inbox.

    Instant Access to Free Guide


    Where do you start searching for assisted living or memory care communities?

    What qualities in a community should you look for? How do you know you made the right decision?


    NOTE: Your privacy is important to us. We’ll never share your details nor spam your inbox.

    Instant Access to Free Guide


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    NOTE: Your privacy is important to us. We’ll never share your details nor spam your inbox.

    Instant Access to Free Guide


    No one ever plans to be sick or disabled, and disasters, man-made or natural, can happen at any time, anywhere.

    Yet older adults are among the most vulnerable during a crisis. That’s why it’s critical that seniors, and those who care for them, prepare for emergencies.


    NOTE: Your privacy is important to us. We’ll never share your details nor spam your inbox.

    Instant Access to Free Guide


    Moving to assisted living is a life-changing event.

    This guide provides tips and ideas on downsizing, what to pack and how to make the transition smooth for your senior parent.


    NOTE: Your privacy is important to us. We’ll never share your details nor spam your inbox.

    Instant Access to Free Guide


    In this eBook, you’ll learn how to talk with family and friends about caregiving challenges, how to deal with a parent who is resistant to help, how to get more caregiving help from your siblings, and how to keep your job while caregiving.


    NOTE: Your privacy is important to us. We’ll never share your details nor spam your inbox.

    Instant Access to Free Guide


    Have you had to cut back your hours at work to care for your mom? Are you worried about administering medications or injections?

    Have you stopped getting together with friends, either because you don’t have the time or you’re too exhausted? Are you becoming the invisible second patient?


    NOTE: Your privacy is important to us. We’ll never share your details nor spam your inbox.

    Instant Access to Free Guide


    In this guide, you’ll learn about the difference between Alzheimer’s and dementia, including the early symptoms of dementia; the seven stages of dementia and the symptoms that typically accompany each one; and the signs it’s time to start exploring your memory care options.


    NOTE: Your privacy is important to us. We’ll never share your details nor spam your inbox.

    Instant Access to Free Guide


    In this guide, you’ll learn about the difference between assisted living and memory care, how health care professionals are trained in dementia care, common features of a memory care community, and questions you should ask when exploring your memory care options.


    NOTE: Your privacy is important to us. We’ll never share your details nor spam your inbox.

    Instant Access to Free Guide


    Navigating adult sibling relationships can be a challenge, but coming together for the sake of your parent is important.

    In this guide, you’ll learn about common sibling conflicts that arise when caring for parents, strategies for getting siblings on board, and where to turn to for help.


    NOTE: Your privacy is important to us. We’ll never share your details nor spam your inbox.

    Instant Access to Free Guide


    Assisted living can be a touchy subject. No matter how you approach it, your parent is likely to have objections to something.

    As you help them transition to a new stage of life, it helps to be prepared with answers to their questions and concerns.


    NOTE: Your privacy is important to us. We’ll never share your details nor spam your inbox.

    Instant Access to Free Guide


    A Guide to the Most Common Family Caregiver Challenges Associated with Caring for an Aging Parent.

    You’ll learn about the true costs of being a family caregiver, common family conflicts that can occur when caring for parents, and some of the unexpected challenges of caregiving.


    NOTE: Your privacy is important to us. We’ll never share your details nor spam your inbox.

    Instant Access to Free Guide


    This checklist will help to make sure you are getting the most out of your visit to The Arbors.

    The list details what important questions to ask during your visit so you are able to make an enlightened choice and find the best assisted living community for your needs.


    NOTE: Your privacy is important to us. We’ll never share your details nor spam your inbox.

    Instant Access to Free Guide


    If you’re unsure what Assisted Living looks like in real life, whether there is a difference with nursing homes or a desire to see how community life unfolds, then this guide is exactly what you need.

    A guide to discover the Care Team and a Typical Day in Assisted Living.


    NOTE: Your privacy is important to us. We’ll never share your details nor spam your inbox.

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