One day, it happens. You get a call from your sister in the middle of the night. Mom fell, but she’s ok. The paramedics helped her up and made sure she didn’t have more than just a few bruises. But this is the not the first time Mom has fallen at home, living there all by herself. You and your sister fear that Mom’s safety and health is in jeopardy of you don’t do something.
Making that first call to a retirement community can be daunting. You really don’t know what you’re looking for or even what to ask. You just know Mom needs help. How do you know if an assisted living community is appropriate? Does Mom need 24-hour supervision or just a little help each day?
Some retirement communities offer only one or two levels of care, but others, like Fair Haven in Birmingham, AL, offer a variety of care levels to help meet the needs of older adults at various stages in their life and health.
Assisted Living in Alabama is a licensed care level for which a community provides minor assistance with activities of daily living, such as taking a bath and getting dressed. Specialty Care Assisted Living (or SCALF) is a licensed care level in Alabama for which a community provides the minor assistance of assisted living, but with added personnel and security precautions for people experiencing mild to moderate cognitive impairment. Nursing Care is a licensed level of care in Alabama that provides advanced supervision and assistance with day-to-day life.
Only a medical professional can determine the appropriate care level needed, but what follows is a little information that may help you to understand what the medical professional is looking for when assessing your parent’s needs. These six general categories are taken straight from a document called a Physical Self-Maintenance Scale (PSMS), which is often used in conjunction with a mini-mental assessment to help determine what level of care is most appropriate. It is important that your parent be placed in the correct care level at a community for your parent’s personal safety, health and happiness. With your parent in mind, review the following questions in these six PSMS categories:
Can your parent prepare a meal and eat by themselves? Does he/she need some assistance to prepare food or to eat? Does he/she resist the efforts of others to help with eating?
Can your parent choose appropriate clothing from their own wardrobe and dress and undress by himself/herself? Is he/she completely unable to dress on their own?
Attention to Personal Appearance
Is your parent always neatly dressed and well-groomed without having been helped by others? Can he/she comb or brush hair, shave, or care for nails by himself/herself? Does he/she need total attention from another person to help with these types of tasks?
Does your parent get around the house and the city alone? Just having and using an assistive mobility device such as a walker, scooter or wheelchair does not matter to this category. The question is, can your parent operate the mobility device completely by themselves? Can your parent get into and out of bed or a chair by himself/herself? Is your parent bedridden more than half of their day?
Taking a Bath
Is your parent capable of cleaning themselves, whether in a tub, shower or by sponge bath? Is he/she able to wash his/her face and hands, but unable to reach other parts of the body without help? How cooperative is your parent if he/she needs bathing assistance?
Going to the Restroom
Can your parent go to the restroom by himself/herself? Are there occasionally accidents, either while awake or while sleeping? Does he/she have complete loss of his/her own bowels or bladder?
How your parent scores on these PSMS categories, as well as his/her level of cognitive functioning, will help your parent find the right care. And once the physical and health needs are managed, your parent can spend more time enjoying family and building new friendships with others who are very much like themselves.
For more information about life at Fair Haven, including details on our how to make Fair Haven your or your loved one's new home, contact our admissions team at 205-578-6787, complete a contact form, or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.