For more than a year, Alice Mazmanian has been happy at Silverado Senior Living in Costa Mesa, Calif. At least, Mazmanian, who suffers from Alzheimer’s Disease, seems happy — and that’s what counts to her family.
“She just couldn’t stay at home anymore,” her son, Victor, says about his mother, 83. He also acknowledges his mother’s battle with dementia — which changed her life — has profoundly altered his future.
SeniorCareHomes.com, located in Ladera Ranch, Calif., provides advice about choosing assisted living and nursing homes. It also plans to provide an online listing of 65,000 such facilities in 50 states by the end of the month.
A Senior Care Resource Center on the website showcases experts who write on topics such as “Alzheimer’s Prevention” and “Best Fit for Assisted Living.”
The state Department of Public Health regulates nursing homes. It maintains a list of nursing homes that have been cited for serious violations.
The state’s Long-Term Care Ombudsman Program provides information about assisted-living housing and nursing homes. It also investigates complaints of elder abuse at
Once he was the proud third-generation head of the family’s trash removal business, then a mortgage banker. Today, he is a paid consultant to families needing to care for a loved one with Alzheimer’s and he also volunteers at Saddleback, Mariner’s and other churches in Orange County where he conducts support groups helping caregivers cope with the challenges of elder care — particularly Alzheimer’s.
“The need is so great,” he says. “So many, many people are caught up in care-giving. The story never seems to end.”
Holidays often are the time when adult children notice a change in their parents’ lifestyle. Often the change is a red flag signaling it’s time to step in and, perhaps, take over.
“We’re talking changes in the parents’ appearance or the home’s appearance,” says Laurie Dobies of La Habra, Calif.-based Home Instead Senior Care, which provides trained caregivers and companionship for seniors.
“Maybe it’s clutter or spoiled food in the refrigerator. Maybe they can’t stand long enough to prepare a meal or they’re afraid of falling.
“Common sense things aren’t being done and that’s a signal the parent needs help.”
So there’s the signal. But how to respond?
“Everyone usually starts by talking about nursing homes because, at one time, that’s all that was around,” Dobies says. “But now there are so many, many options.”
Often some help with housework, shopping or personal care may be all an aging parent needs. Others have health issues but may still remain in their home with caregivers who remind them when to take medications and provide some other assistance. Still others may have to move out of their homes into assisted living for required care and supervision.
Most seniors resist leaving their homes, Dobie agrees.
Maureen Gardiner, 72, says she will never leave her Laguna Niguel, Calif., home. The parent was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s just two years ago, but her decline has been very rapid, says her daughter, Sara Kelly of Covina, Calif.
“She’s always been fiercely independent,” Kelly says. “It’s so important for her to stay at home; we decided to try and make that possible until, frankly, she doesn’t recognize who she is anymore.”
Two caregivers stay with Gardiner 24/7. Another oversees their efforts, visiting a couple of times a week and reporting regularly to Kelly.
Home care is less expensive than assisted living, but still offers “peace of mind for the children who know their parent is safe,” Dobie says.
“A lot of home care is simply companionship,” she says.
Countering senior resistance to assistance can be challenging, says Suzanne Mintz, president and CEO of the National Family Caregivers Association.
“Family caregivers must recognize that their parents are adults and — unless there are cognitive or emotional problems — they can make their own decisions. We do not and should not become our parents’ parents. We must remember we will always be their children.”
See the website caregiverstress.com for a discussion of home-care options.
Despite best efforts, however, assisted living often is the safest option for a parent.
Whether you are choosing a large assisted-living community or a small residential-care home, the initial move from independent to community lifestyle is a big adjustment, says Erwin T. Allado, CEO of SeniorCareHomes.com.
Allado offers some tips to help make the right choice:
n Take your time: Research available facilities in your area. Note that vacancies change rapidly. Try to give the facility two to three weeks’ advance notice.
n Know your options: Get at least two or three living arrangements to compare and consider what you like the most or the least about each. Are they a match for your needs in terms of care, location and budget? Talk to the senior-care advisor at each home.
n Talk to residents: Are they sociable? Will your parent interact with them?
Talk to the owner and staff: Do they seem like they care about their clients? How do they interact with residents and family members?
n References: Get testimonials from residents and family members.
n Facts: How long have they been in business? Do they have any major citations from state licensing agencies.