Originally posted in allaboutestates.ca on November 25, 2013:
While many families fear that having a loved one move into an assisted living environment is one step closer to death, experience tells me that this is not necessarily the case. For many seniors, isolation can be detrimental to their health. After writing this blog, The Globe and Mail on November 23, 2013 published an article by Elizabeth Renzetti that discussed the issue of loneliness and isolation and she highlighted a sad case of a woman who had been dead for some time, with her television still blaring. She discussed that many of us feel alone and today’s communities can feel even more isolating.
Families have found that the structure and routine provided, especially the provision of 3 nutritious meals daily and medication monitoring has improved their loved one’s mental and physical health and general well being.
Many of us were raised in an environment where meal time was part of family time which was a socialized activity. The challenges of shopping alone, cooking alone and eating alone can result in poor nutritional intake for seniors. For many, eating becomes a chore rather than an enjoyable activity that satisfies the tummy as well as the mind.
As well, the challenge of taking one’s medication on time, even with a dossette can be difficult.
Families with whom we work often report an improvement in their loved one’s general well being- when their loved one has gone from living alone to moving into a ready made community.
Structure, reassurance, access to medical support, routine and socialization may be just what is needed for the senior to become re-energized. Trial and short term stays (available in either retirement or long term care facilities) are a wonderful way to test the waters.