Winters in the northeast are brutal: It’s cold out. You don’t feel like doing anything. Pipes freeze. Black ice kills.
You might think that putting off the move to assisted living until after winter will give your mom or dad one more holiday season at home. But one more winter at home also means another season of worrying about them slipping on ice, driving to the grocery store in snowy weather, or feeling stuck at home.
It’s not easy to know when to move parents to assisted living, but if you’ve already been talking about it, you might want to encourage them to move before winter hits.
“Moving before wintertime is being proactive,” says Bianca Syriac, Marketing Director of The Ivy at Ellington.
Adds Executive Director Lindsay Redin: “When folks are ‘reactive’ in choosing an assisted living, such as after a fall, they are usually a bit more limited in what they can participate in, and it makes becoming established in the community a bit harder.”
So before your loved one slips and falls on ice, consider these specific advantages assisted living offers during the winter months.
If your parent stays at home this winter, it’s likely that they’ll have to deal with snowy driveways, icy sidewalks, and hazardous road conditions.
“I worked with a family whose father was in his mid-90s and experiencing congestive heart failure,” Syriac says. “He believed he was in tip-top shape and wanted to continue to do all the yard work, to drive, to work in the shop in his garage. A brutal nor’easter came through and left about 5 inches of snow outside. He decided he would shovel the snow off of his roof, so he climbed up the ladder and started shoveling.”
Fortunately, his family came by, helped him safely get down, and took over the shoveling, but they knew it could have been a whole lot worse. From slipping on ice to catching hypothermia while shoveling to skipping doctor appointments or trips to the grocery store, winter hazards abound.
When you help a parent get settled into an assisted living community before winter, you can ensure they won’t have to worry about clearing snow from their driveway, sidewalks, or roofs.
They won’t have to worry about getting to the grocery store or the doctor’s office, either. Assisted living residents enjoy delicious, healthy meals in a beautiful restaurant-style dining room on a daily basis, so they don’t need to rush to the grocery store before the next storm hits. Assisted living communities also provide transportation, so your parent doesn’t need to worry about driving to off-campus appointments.
“Being a part of a community allows for most of the day-to-day tasks to be completed under one roof,” Syriac says.
Health & Wellness
Most people who get sick with the flu will have mild symptoms: sore throat, cough, and a runny nose. But seniors are more likely to experience complications that can result in hospitalization— and sometimes death.
In assisted living, staff members ensure residents stay up-to-date on their medicine and vaccinations, which helps keep them in the best health possible. And although moving to assisted living might not prevent your loved one from getting the flu, there are experienced health professionals on hand 24/7 to monitor their health and treat any illness that may flare up.
Another reason to consider moving to assisted living before winter hits is that communities offer fitness and wellness programs to ensure residents stay active despite the short, dark days. Perhaps your dad loves to golf, but once October rolls around, he spends most of his days watching TV. Or maybe your mom loves taking walks outside but the icy sidewalks keep her indoors.
In assisted living, your parent can stay healthy and active all winter long thanks to on-site fitness offerings, including exercise rooms, walking paths, and yoga classes.
Because it can be difficult and dangerous to get around, many seniors have less contact with others during the winter months, which can lead to feelings of loneliness and isolation.
“Wintertime makes socialization less convenient and leaves the seniors isolated at home, without easy access to doctor’s appointments, meals, friends, and more,” says Bianca Syriac, Marketing Director of The Ivy at Ellington. “They’re not socializing, so they can become isolated, which can cause them to have depression.”
Assisted living residents gain access to a strong social environment and support network. Residents often gather for conversation and programs in the lively community areas — pubs, living rooms, libraries, beauty salons, private dining rooms, and sunrooms — and enjoy the companionship of neighbors, friends, and family. Social events are encouraged, and community life usually means that seniors are more active than they were living alone. There are opportunities to socialize during activities, small groups like book club, writing class or knitting, or chatting during meals.
Moving to an assisted living community immediately empowers your loved one to stay busy and engaged and helps them fight the boredom and depression that can be a byproduct of winter.
It’s not easy to know when it’s time to make the move to assisted living, but if your loved one is already struggling to keep up with housework and spending day after day at home alone, moving to an assisted living community might keep them safe, healthy, and engaged this winter.
Still not sure if now is the right time? Download our guide to the 7 Warning Signs That It’s Time to Move to Assisted Living.