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Family 411: Challenges of choosing assisted living

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The decision to help an aging adult move out of their current home to assisted living can be challenging.

How to recognize when circumstances suggest your loved one should no longer be living on their own.

Tiffany Kroeger says her parents owned a business and were active in their community.

So it was an adjustment for Tiffany to consider helping them move to assisted living.

Safety was the number one concern.

"We kind of noticed that maybe the house wasn't as clean as it was. They were both losing weight. Didn't see their friends as often."

Assisted living can be a great step for seniors who need more socialization and help with daily needs than the family can provide at home.

"Whatever they want to talk about, I talk about and we talk about [it] together," said Tiffany's mom, Jean Carskadden.

According to the US Department of Health and Human Services, more than 70 percent of Americans over the age of 65 will need long-term care services at some point in their lives.

72-year-old Jean is one of them.

These women, who doctors say are in need of memory care, now share stories and giggle as they call themselves 'The Golden Girls.'

Dr. Don Mack is a geriatrics expert who tells us about 20 percent of seniors ask him about moving to assisted living, but some families find their loved ones will resist leaving their home.

"Particularly as people get older, they lose their ability to adjust to new environments."

Mack says many times, children feel guilty about the need to transition their parents to assisted living.

Mack tells us it's like the airlines instructing passengers.

"Put on your oxygen mask first, then help others around you, if you don't have oxygen, the ones around you aren't going to get what they need either."

Tiffany suggests families do their homework on facilities.

Talk with other residents and meet with the leadership team to discuss core values.

"Get to know the people that are taking care of your loved ones and be an advocate for them."

Doctors say assisted living is meant to fill the gap between full independence and skilled nursing.

So it's important to evaluated the best level of care needed by your loved one with your family physician.

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