Finding Independence in a Senior Home
When people imagine senior homes, they can typically only think of losing freedoms. Losing the freedom to live in your own home. Losing the freedom to live alone. Losing the freedom to privacy.
My mom - who lives with Alzheimer's disease - has lived in a senior home for over a year now. Since she's been there, my mom is now living a life of surprising independence, with more freedom than she's had in a long time.
Because senior homes help with many tasks that dementia interferes with, people living with the disease can sometimes regain an independence they couldn’t have living on their own.
Independent living that wasn't independent anymore
Living at home alone was a struggle for my mom. Her house was big - it was the home I grew up in, a good size for a family of 4 - and always had something broken or in need of repair.
Family members would come to visit and be handed a big list of tasks she needed help with: Changing the light bulb in the ceiling fan, a broken sprinkler head, a noisy toilet, a piece of mail she didn't know what to do with. She stopped cooking and wasn't eating well-rounded meals.
Then my mom stopped driving because dementia was making it too dangerous. But her busy social life continued and she needed rides every day to the gym, a weekly lunch meeting, various doctor appointments. We had an elaborate team of drivers that included friends, family, and neighbors.
Everyone wants the independence of living at home as long as possible. But because she lives with dementia, my mom wasn't able to be very independent at home anymore.
Even family living has its drawbacks
When mom moved in with me and my family, we thought she would much prefer it over living in a group senior home. And she did - for a time.
But soon she began to resent needing to ask us for everything: Rides to the store, where I keep the sugar, where to find extra garbage bags. She would be frustrated when I came in and cleaned her room. She wasn't able to be around friends and peers without me driving her someplace.
She had lost her independence of living alone at home, and moved into something possibly worse in her eyes - being dependent on her child.
Senior homes can give back independence
Now at my mom's independent living home, they provide meals, light cleaning, and help with maintenance and repairs. Those 3 things lightened her burden and reduced so much of her daily stress.
She likes that she doesn't have to ask me anymore, but that she can ask someone whose job it is to help. She has privacy and her own space with a lock and key, but has the option to socialize at meals and activities.
There are also 2 mini buses that take residents to local events, regular shopping trips, and appointments. Transportation has been a particular challenge for me as I also shuttle my kids around each week.
Now that she has the group transportation, my mom doesn't have to wait for me to drive her around in between kid activities. She likes that she can go to the front desk and sign up for a grocery store trip and she isn't interfering with anyone's schedule. She feels more control over her own life.
Do you agree with this statement: The benefits of living in a senior living facility can outweigh the difficulties.
Finding independence in senior living
Moving into an independent living senior home has not been perfect for my mom or my family, but the benefits have far outweighed the difficulties. I'm sure she still grieves not having her own home but it is clear that she is relieved to no longer have the burdens of living alone in a big house.
I am thankful that my mom is able to retain some independence even as she lives with an Alzheimer's diagnosis.
Which, if any, of the following most often trigger agitation in your loved one living with Alzheimer's disease?