Making the difficult transition from home to assisted living easier

By Lucas Lloyd
TheStatehouseFile.com

FRANKLIN, Ind. – Rick Mosbaugh has been a fan of the Pacers since he was young — back when they were in the American Basketball Association and before they built an arena.

He watches all the Pacers games at Morning Pointe Assisted Living, where he is a resident. Mosbaugh was diagnosed with an intellectual disability when he was young.

His family has been there to support him through the difficulties of day-to-day activities. But now their parents are no longer able to drive and that has placed the responsibility on the others in the family. Linda Waugh, his younger sister, said the changes in the dynamic between her parents and brother’s relationship has changed dramatically in recent years.

Rick Mosbaugh looks out the window of Morning Pointe. Photo by Zoie Richey, TheStatehouseFile.com

“For my brother, he has always had to live with my parents because he has some disabilities,” said Waugh. “When our parents became in a state where they could no longer take care of him or themselves, then we had to find a place for him for the very first time, a place to live.”

The Family Process

The process of finding a place typically is arranged by the family members, not the future resident.

“It is probably one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to do,” said Waugh. “We don’t realize that we all might face this at one point living in a place like this or we’ll face the possibility of having to make that decision for a loved one.”

Waugh said she couldn’t have done it alone. The support from another sibling made the process easier to work through.

“My sister and I have walked through this together very well and have grown from it,” said Waugh, “but I know people that it has torn families apart and that’s a horrible thing to watch.

Sometimes siblings argue about money, living arrangements, or medical and end-of-life choices.

When family members do not agree on what is the best for their loved one, they can turn to a counselor or geriatric care manager — third parties that can help the discussion move forward for a family.​

In the difficult cases, elder care mediation provides a family with an opportunity to figure out their options before the worst-case scenario of going before a judge.

Counselors finding answers

Shanoah Bruner, community relations coordinator at Carmel Senior Living, counsels families with the move-in process.

​“Everyone has their own, what we call in our industry, ‘hot buttons.’ These are most appealing in reasons to why they are going to choose a place,” said Bruner, who has worked in the assisted living business for 22 years.

Those hot buttons can be anything from the food, activities or even social engagements around the community. Bruner’s goal is to figure out what the future resident’s interests are and show them what they can offer around the facility.

But when there is a stronger desire from the family to move their loved one into assisted living, instead of the other way around, Bruner occasionally asks the family to reach out for help.

“Sometimes we will encourage the family to get the doctor involved and say what the reasons as to why we feel like assisted living is necessary,” said Bruner. “The reason we do that is because coming from their doctor usually carries more weight because of the trust they already have built with them.”

The Difficulty of Alzheimer’s

In some cases, future residents could have a condition, such as Alzheimer’s, that leaves the decision making solely to the family.

Judy Hall made the choice to move her mother into Morning Pointe because there was no other option.​

“She wasn’t asked, because she was in the hospital with a stroke and she could no longer walk or take care of herself, which brought dementia on even worse than it already was,” said Hall.

Morning Pointe and other communities have a process in place for when a resident with Alzheimer’s begins to decline. They may start in assisted living and then over time move over to a memory care wing of the facility.

Hall is grateful for the support Morning Pointe has provided her family as they work through this transition.

“It’s not so tough on the patient that has Alzheimer’s than it is on the family members,” said Hall. “She is alive, but she as the mother as I knew her, is gone.”

Rick Mosbaugh sits outside and enjoys the weather at Morning Pointe Assisted Living in Franklin. Photo by Zoie Richey, TheStatehouseFile.com

Feels like home

Mosbaugh has trusted his family to make the best decisions for him throughout the search for an assisted living community that would feel like home.

A place like Morning Pointe enabled him to feel loved and responsible for some things he had never been doing before. He walks around the building and gives his report on the weather, providing updates for other residents on the temperature or when to expect the next rain. He also oversees the emergency team. If a resident falls he is the first one at the door to give directions when authorities arrive.

“I kept thinking if this was for me and not for my brother, then what would I want?” said Waugh. “A loving and caring community like Morning Pointe was the answer.”

Lucas Lloyd is a reporter for TheStatehouseFile.com, a news website powered by Franklin College journalism students.

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