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Do You Really Know What Assisted Living Is?

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Dear Editor,

Assisted living facilities (ALFs) look great, and offer meals, housekeeping and, at an additional cost, meds. But your parent isn’t eating well or keeping house not only because of physical reasons; you must consider emotional needs too. Leaving home means losing one’s identity – an emotional problem. Moving to an ALF means a new identity. To acclimate, social activity is necessary.

Not all social activities are effective. For example, a knitting group is listed, but often nobody goes. Shopping trips sound good, but residents dropped off at large stores often become confused or depressed.

As an elder care advisor in ALFs, I know that a positive emotional status is key to acclimating to ALF life. I’ve seen people acquire a sense of belonging. Otherwise, they’re lonely and sad.

Socialization activities that improve emotions should not just bring people together to listen or watch something; they should involve sharing common interests/experiences, for example, the themes, “Trips to Florida” or “First Time I Drove a Car.”

Encouragement is required. Walk them to activities. Encourage them along the way. If they’re in a wheel chair, push them; otherwise, the weak stay behind. Elderly people don’t just like attention; they require attention. Currently, ALFs don’t include that attention without an additional fee.

Food quality affects emotions. Some ALFs have fresh meals. Others serve frozen and canned foods. Many residents only leave their rooms at mealtime. If the food isn’t good, they leave the dining room, missing a meal and socialization.

By adopting these suggestions, ALF directors could create industry competition, and create a happy, content and longer-term stay for residents.

If this is the last chapter in our lives, let`s turn the page and end it with dignity. Do you want your loved one to be just safe, or happy?

Sincerely,

Sherrill Goswell

Guilford, CT

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