All seniors cannot lead an autonomous daily life when they grow old; because of the fatigue due to their age, but also certain diseases that can only be treated in specialized establishments.
When is the right time to consider it?
For a valid senior
The senior is still “fit” and able to live in his/her familiar environment.
However, the tiredness due to the maintenance of a home, its location (stairs, distance from the stores, isolation), or to transient health problems (a fracture, small surgery that is difficult to recover from, a tough flu in the recent past) are elements that make it more and more difficult to stay at home without help.
There are two possible scenarios:
You can choose home help, on a more or less extended scope: it can range from basic meal delivery service to a permanent at-home support, including housework or bathroom assistance. There often are several providers to coordinate (Nurse, housekeeper, etc.). This option is helpful for an elderly person who doesn’t want to leave their “home sweet home”, but it is also expensive!
With your senior relative’s agreement and after taking enough time to think it over and discuss it, you decide to go for the “retirement home” option. This generic title gathers various types of institutions: public institutions, often managed by the city or the Department council, private and/or community retirement homes, that are often company-owned and fully reserved for former employees, as well as housing-centers and service residences, which belong to private entities and can be a good compromise, and, finally, individual housing with common spaces and services that all residents can enjoy. Costs can be very different depending on the type of service provided.
For a dependent senior
When age related illnesses or pathologies prevent the senior to stay at home safely, you should start considering placing him/her in a specialized institution. The type of institution must be chosen according to the senior’s health condition:
EHPADs (housing for dependent elderly people): these retirement medicalized facilities provide therapeutic care for a great number of illnesses, physical or psychological. The constant presence of medical and paramedical staff, as well as a daily life organized around activities, guarantee well-being and safety for the seniors.
Managed by local department councils, EHPADs are under agreement with Health Insurance.
LTCUs (Long-Term Care Units): they are intended for highly dependent seniors whose
health requires constant care and supervision, LTCUs are located within hospital facilities. Medical expenses are covered by the senior’s Health Insurance, although there also is a flat rate to pay for accommodation, as it is the case in EHPADs.
Alzheimer’s specialized institutions
Alzheimer’s specialized institutions: Alzheimer’s disease treatments are specific and only provided in Alzheimer’s protected units: small group structures where a trained staff organizes their everyday life so as to maintain optimal well-being and cognitive health: exercise, games, stimulation… These structures can either be autonomous or integrated in a retirement home.
In any case, note that you must get the senior’s consent before placing him/her in a specialized institution. If they are not able to give their consent, you will have to go to a guardianship judge to confirm, or not, that the person would be accepted into the institution.
Whatever the situation, integration into a retirement care facility must be progressive; make sure that you start with a short trial stay.
This question may also rise during the holidays. Some structures offer day care services, which can be a good way to introduce your relative to this type of facility. Note that you can also find structures that specialize in preparing seniors for their integration in a home.
Specialized institutions are used to adjusting to all kinds of situations; if you’re only starting to think about placing a relative in a specialized structure and that he/she still is independent, start with getting a GPS tracker: the senior can notify you in case of a problem. No remote assistance system, no intrusive surveillance, it is only there to make them aware of their level of autonomy. A very useful first step!