Experience with Independent Living - do they assign a buddy or welcome host to new residents?


We've known of a wonderful IL place about 3 hours from where I now live that my great-grandmother and grandmother both lived in. We are now thinking of Mom living there if we can make the finances work. One of my biggest issues is that I am uncertain Mom will be able to do her own grocery shopping there. She is half-blind (blind spots) and has slight balance issues in strange places. Right now I take her shopping and steer the cart for her, maybe point to the item she is looking for if she has trouble finding it. I hover when she pays to help with the payment machine.

Am I being overly cautious and worried? I feel like if I knew she had a companion right there to help her (but we can't afford to pay someone), then I'd worry a lot less. Do most IL places assign welcome buddies or anything? Is it realistic to expect (hope) that an overly nosy resident might soon step in and be her friend?

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Igloo572, I was laughing so hard at your story! I can just picture it. Mom CAN see enough for movies and for crafts. A friend once forced her to go make jewelry and she actually made a necklace and earrings. I have no idea how much they helped her, if at all. And we go to movies every few weeks. (Though the stairs are scary.) I sometimes consider just letting her loose in the grocery store. The biggest danger so far I've seen is that she steps in front of oncoming people.

She refuses to use a cane or any kind of support other than my arm or the shopping cart. I don't know if I'm creating dependence on me or not. But one night when I went in to put our names on the wait list at a restaurant while she talked to someone on the phone in the car, I came back to find she had walked across the parking lot and was looking for the door to the restaurant next to the one we were supposed to go to. I was freaked but also wondering if she was hiding her abilities.

Being up front is good advice. It hadn't occurred to me they might send such a letter.
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Oh also my mom's IL did have an assigned welcome buddy - but really it was more about showing up at her apt before lunch so that they could walk down together for the first month and then another buddy for activities, again so they could walk down together to exercises or art&crafts for the first month. IL really requires that they be able to do for themselves or if they are a couple that the spouse does for the other without jeapordising their own safety. You have to be realistic in what they can do and maybe do a dry run to see what she is like without you.

funny moment, took blind MIL to Target right and just as we were done (she is holding onto cart to steady herself as she is blind and walks with a cane and refusing to accept either type), so far it has been the elder Indy 500 in the store and we have NOT hit anything....about to go to check out and she says "I need Chapstick for my butt"....so I move her to the carpeted clothing area and tell her to stay put and fly to health & beauty and grab some Boudreaux's Butt paste and fly back.....she has managed in like 5 minutes to total the end cap of clothes, 3 rolling racks of clothes are about to domino over and the end cap of bottled sports drinks are rolling about. F*** chaos and she sees nothing, oblivious. No way she could function in IL. So think about what it would be like for your mom when they do shopping trips at the IL or if she can participate in arts & crafts or "see" well enough to participate in movie or game night in which everybody else can see.
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My mom is in independent living. Where she is (in a Chicago suburb) there's no buddy to help her - I'm the one who does her grocery shopping, etc. Could you get Peapod.com to deliver her groceries? You'd pay for that, but not as much as having a caregiver do that for your mom.

You might also check out volunteer agencies in the area. I used to volunteer with a local group where I took a blind gentleman to shop every week. I'd walk with him in the store and help him get his groceries and then get his groceries in the house for him. You might be able to find someone to help with that. Here in my suburban area, you'd find that service either through the Township offices or through some religious group. Good luck!
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I'd suggest you be upfront with admission on the IL about her visual impairments. You don't want to find yourself 3 months from now in getting a "although we just love her, we cannot provide the level of care & SAFETY she needs to move" letter.
Really please do this as it is going to make mom feel bad if she can't do what the others do and the IL will notice. You don;t want to have to move her again - it's pretty dramatic to move to IL even in the best of situations and then having to move again to AL is just so stressful for them. The vision issue will be a liability for the facility as IL means they can do all their ADL's wholly on their own. For my mom's IL, they had monthly fire drills and they had to be able to go from their apt to the stairwell and walk down. It seemed that every drill was noted as to which residents could and had issues and often got an AL needed letter if it happened in more than a couple of months fire drills. My mom although really old (in her 90's) was always good on her ADL's and walking independently but others not so. My late MIL was virtually blind and if she had been at the same IL, they would have sent the "she needs a higher level of care" letter on her out within short order. MIL was refusing to accept her blindness and it is hard when they are stubborn on all this.

If there is a Lighthouse for the Blind office in your area, I'd contact them and go down to see them to discuss which facilities are more blind friendly. ALso most Lighthouse have a shop in which you can buy all sorts of things that make things easier for the blind. My MIL had a tabletop reader that was a god-send and this large format and braille clock/calendar that was satellite connected, that also was great. Some states have very good & proactive and funded blind programs - my MIL was in TX & TX has a pretty good system w/private & public funding.
Good luck.
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Anyone have experience with moving a parent to Indepdendent Living?
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