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I am looking at different assisted living facilities for my mother and am having a hard time figuring out if the facilities will be able to keep my mother engaged and active.


How did others look into this? Am I asking for too much to expect my mother to be engaged and happy at these places? Should I be prioritizing other things?

As others have already said your mom's engagement with the activities will depend both on her and the activities. At my dad's AL he does't participate in any activities because he has such difficult seeing and hearing. He does attend their live music performances and happy hours but doesn't bother with game or movie nights. As was noted earlier some of the activities are geared to people with a lower level of acuity and interest but at my dad's AL they also have classes on Art, History, Current Events and Music which are taught by experts in their field and are open to the community whcih are geared to a very high level of knowledge and interest - like a college class with no homework! I think each facility tries to accomodate their resident base as best they can. During this Covid lockdown they suspended all activities that had non-resident participation and they also don't allow any non-residents to enter the building for performances, etc so all the activities are led by the over-stressed staff.
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Reply to jkm999
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I live in assisted living for 12 years (two places). I hate to tell you this but any activities in these places are geared towards people with very low brain power and more suitable for children of grammar school age but considering the age and reasons people are here, I guess that is just normal. However, if you are a high functioning adult, you can wait until the cows come home - with very rare exception, there are NO ACTIVITIES GEARED FOR THOSE WHO ARE WITH IT. I take care of myself completely and never go to the activities. I was going swimming but can't right now due to. medical crisis. However, I still work at the same job - nearly 51 years and love it; just finished six years of online college courses - 30 in all; do plenty of hobbies; drive (once I am healed I will get out again) and go and eat by self in restaurants. For me, I would be bored out of my mind so I plan my life around things I love to do and which work for me. Sad, but true - there are very, very few activities that make people want to do them and I think all places are like that. My observation is that most people in assisted living, with a few exceptions, live to: eat, sh*t, sleep and watch t.v. I'd rather be dead than live like that.
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Reply to Riley2166
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Imho, every LO is going to differ in abilities and/or desires to get involved in activities.
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Reply to Llamalover47
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Many facilities will have setup their activities calendar a few months in advance. You can ask the facility program/activities manager for a copy and then look over the activities with your mother together to see if they interest her.

Listing activities is one thing. It is also good to meet some of the activities staff. Their personality makes a big difference in how the program is run!

Between activities, and especially now with the virus temporarily shutting down activities, we looking for creative ways to keep my mom engaged on her own. She is using a voice activated app that let's her play her favorite memories and hear from us and her grandkids whenever she wants. She can say "Play Christmas time" and then my kids voices respond with their own message "Hi Grandma....".

When activities do come back, you will also want to see how program managers are modifying their activities in view of the virus. (I wonder if the group baking activity will come back.)

Good luck on your search!
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Reply to voiceofeva
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I do not want to be negative but my mother never engaged in the activities offered in her AL. I did see lots of other residents that did participate but she refused. I prioritized my search with cost first, then cleanliness, ratio of attendants to residents, closeness to my home, then a few others. No place was exactly right and of course some changed over time. Every place had their daily and monthly activity calendars placed on the bulletin board so check them out too.
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Reply to mikejrexec
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I think you absolutely should make activities a priority. One of the big factors in encouraging my parents to move (in addition to the fact they could no longer care for their house) was that my mom needed more friends and activities to focus on; something other than caring for my father 24/7.
Be sure to talk to current residents and their families. Some places talk a good talk. Make sure people are really happy and the staff is kind and caring.
Good luck!
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Reply to Doingmybest101
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My parents refused to attend any activities that are offered at their senior community. I think they slept poorly and many days had pain so the thought of getting dressed for going out and the very short walk was exhausting. When they first moved in they did go to the dining hall for a few short months. All they did was complain about the food, which was fine) and they hated being around all the old people. My parents are both 85! All you can hope for is she is well cared for and her needs are met. The staff cannot make mom participate. Could mom stay at her home with home care? This made my parents very happy. Even at the end of my dad's life hospice gave home care.
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Reply to kmich0001
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AL varies considerably. There is no programme director where my mother lives and although some activities are put on by the management, many are run by the residents. Of course all have been suspended during the pandemic.

My mother is a narcissistic sociophobe who is actually proud of the fact that she won't join in with the majority of activities and makes derogatory comments about other residents who play Scrabble, for example (no one can fathom why she is like this, as she also complains of boredom), and increasing deafness makes it harder for her anyway. We made the well-meaning error of going with her to activities at the beginning to help her settle in and make friends (something she has never done easily), but she now expects family to take or accompany her to the few social events she does deign to go to, so we made a rod for our own backs.

You know your mother's tastes and interests, so I would contact and when possible visit a few places and see what they have to offer. My mum went for the place nearest to us without considering any others, and it has not worked out well for any of us...
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Reply to helenb63
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Your profile says you are caring for person who is 30 years old. Should it say 80 years old instead?

Do you intend to place her in AL right now? Because, I would imagine that activities and group events are not what they normally are due to covid precautions. BEFORE covid hit, most of the ALs that I had seen did a good job of having daily activities to keep anyone who wants to join in occupied.

Most places have an activity director who you can speak with, who can direct more attention to your LO, if she's not a naturally social person. I did that with my LO's AL and the director sought her out and asked her to help her do things, like hand out papers, organize cards, etc. It helped my LO join in a little more. I will say that if your LO has cognitive decline, it makes the involvement less likely. MY LO's dementia really held her back, because, she just wasn't able to engage with most activities or events. This made her insecure and embarrassed. The activities were not on her level. Once, she was in MC, it got better, because they had less residents per staff member, she got more direct supervision and the activities were geared more towards her capabilities.

You can ask for a schedule to see what things they do, days, times, etc. The places that I know of often have live music at least once a week, a church service live once per week, daily games, like BINGO, movies, stretching, field trips, crafts, singing, etc. (BEFORE COVID)

One thing to consider is how long the staff has been there. I found that long time staff were more reliable. I'd look to places where the staff are not too busy to address the residents needs. But, that's just me. I know that most family members are enthusiastic about activities, but, when it comes to seniors that are really up in age, have significant health issues, limited mobility and decline in cognition.....it seems the family is more into that than the resident. Others may have had different experiences. Some people just like to relax, read, watch tv, listen to music, etc. I did tour one Memory Care facility and observed a table with 4 ladies, nicely dressed, playing cards.
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Reply to Sunnygirl1
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Keep in mind that currently many activities and events that are normally scheduled at Assisted Living and Memory Care are greatly curtailed. And may be for quite some time, and may never return to the level there were previously.
What keeps her "happy and engaged" now? If it is sitting with a puzzle or watching TV then she might be. If it is going for a ride or out to lunch then she may not be as engaged.
If her anxiety and depression are under control it might be easier for her to make adjustments.
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Reply to Grandma1954
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Your profile says that your mother suffers from anxiety, arthritis and depression.

Are her depression and anxiety being treated by a psychiatrist? We found that before treatment for anxiety and depression, my mom was unhappy no matter how many activities were provided.

Wwith good meds, mom became engaged in activities that we could not have predicted she'd enjoy. The stock market club! Jewelry making! Jewish religious services! (mom was an ardent Catholic).

You are certainly right to investigate activities; you want there to be something other than bingo. But you also want to find out if the place is cliquish, how the food is, how much latitude there is about when meds are given and what doctors are available on site.

Having a geriatrics doc and a geriatric psychiatrist on site made all of our lives better.
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Reply to BarbBrooklyn
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