Cancer and Assisted Living: A Daughter Dealing with Mom's Diagnosis [Video]

Find the Best Local Cancer and Assisted Living: A Daughter Dealing with Mom's Diagnosis [Video]
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Cancer and Assisted Living – A Daugher Dealing With Her Mother’s Diagnosis


Summary: A discussion about the relevance between cancer and assisted living, and a video interview we produced of a daughter describing the recent cancer diagnosis of her mother, who just turned 80 years old. We asked the daughter about future considerations of her mother’s ability to live at home alone. This article and video is not to be considered as, or used as medical advice

This is a candid video interview with a daughter describing her mother’s recent diagnosis of Cancer – and future considerations regarding her mother’s ability to continue living alone, or possibly needing to consider alternative living arrangements, including assisted living.

Cancer and Assisted Living…Really?

I had an e-mail conversation with someone recently – a truly nice and helpful person who works for a large, national Cancer Organization, and I suggested our Assisted Living Directory to provide housing information on their site. She, at first, really didn’t put the connection between assisted living and cancer together. She wrote:

“We have looked at the site and we are not sure that the site applies specifically to breast cancer patients or their families. Unless I am mistaken, it seems like an older woman who needs help during treatment for breast cancer would need a different level of care than is offered at a typical assisted living facility. If someone with breast cancer needed nursing care for medications, I do not believe that level of service is provided at an assisted-living facility. And, if you are looking for more of a hospice situation than that would not be found at an assisted living facility either. The site seems very useful in general to people looking for an assisted living situation for himself or herself or a family member, but again I’m not sure that it is the right fit for breast cancer patients or their families.”

I think this was an honest, and well-intended answer, but I didn’t quite agree. Assisted Living seems to have developed somewhat of a stereotype in that they only care for seniors or people with dementia or Alzheimer’s. I think, though, that this stereotype is outdated, and I do believe that more and more assisted living facilities are equipped to care for people with many different illnesses, including cancer of all stages and types. I’ve been working on our site, Assisted Living Directory for many years now, so I have seen thousands of listings posted on our site. I have also communicated with a great number of people, many of whom have cancer and are wishing to be placed into assisted living – or they are looking for help to place a loved one into assisted living who is undergoing, or recovering from cancer or treatment…or declining treatment altogether.

Here are some of the messages we have received over the years, relevant to cancer and assisted living:

“Hello..I am checking facilities for two dear friends who are 88 and 89. The woman was just diagnosed with lung cancer..the husband is in great health. I need to know the cost of your facility (monthly) and availability.” – Thanks, Tanya

“I am looking for an assisted living facility for my mother. She is 71 and a cancer survivor she is no longer able to stay home” – Karen

“I am interested in more information about your facility. My father-in-law has cancer and at 81 does not wish to go through chemotherapy, so I am looking for a local assisted living community where we can help care for him. He is alone so would need only a studio to 1 room apt, so please provide information on your facility including cost and availability” – Thank you, Lloyd

“I am interested in more information about your facility. My father-in-law has cancer and at 81 does not wish to go through chemotherapy, so I am looking for a local assisted living community where we can help care for him. He is alone so would need only a studio to 1 room apt, so please provide information on your facility including cost and availability” – Thank you, Lloyd

His mind is Ok so far, although sometimes is slow; he had an aneurysm; at the present he has an Emphysema and Prostate Cancer both under control. He can walk slowly with his cane. At the present time he is living by himself in the outskirts of Seebring Fla, doing his own home chores. As relatives, he has myself and my other brother, both of us living in the Dominican Republic, having no other family. He must stay in Florida in order to be able to get the proper medical care he needs for his illness as an American citizen, of course. He is a Surgeon Doctor and Psychiatrist, who served in the US, and it is too bad he is in this shape.
He is only source of income is a Social Security monthly check, and also he has the benefits of Medicare and Medicaid.

The purpose of this letter, if possible is to obtain the following information:
1. The different type of facilities that your institution provides
2. The financial cost of my brother living with you
3. If you accept Medicaid, and if so, what percentage of your cost would cover the Medicaid, as well as his Social Security.

Our intentions are if possible to move him to the new residence by the month of July 2010

Thank you so much in advance for your cooperation” – Donald

” I want to find a facility for people 60-75 years old. I am 62 with stage 4 breast cancer./my mother is in Harbor Branch in Port St Lucie but there are 80-100 year olds there. She is 83 and said she is too young for the “joint”. Do all the rooms have porches? Can I have an overnight guest for a few days…like my brother or friends? I may be able to work part time so is this ok?” – Gail

“Hello I was wondering if there where any rooms available there in Benton? I am asking on behalf of my Mom. she has cancer and she is getting to where she cant take care of some things and starting to forget a lot” – Mike

“I am searching for living facilities for a friend in Jacksonville. My friend receives bi-weekly therapy treatments for lung cancer and has a colonoscopy. Other than that, he is an able man. He drives everywhere in his own automobile. Unfortunately, he doesn’t own his own home and is limited to SS income of $1200/month. He has been living with his son, but his son feels he needs an assisted living facility for help with meals and daily hygiene. Can you provide information about fees and vacancies? Also describe the living arrangements.”Thank you!!!” – Lois

“I was diagnosed with terminal lung cancer, and have less than six months to live. Would I be eligible to be a resident, and what would it cost?” – Jean

Whether there’s a need, or a need that can be filled, assisted living and cancer are related

Cancer is a serious disease, to be sure, but assisted living can be very helpful to many people with cancer – especially seniors, and their families. Often times, cancer treatment is a relatively quick process (not in terms of duration of overall treatment, but in terms of the actual administration of therapy) – some radiation treatments take only 10 minutes or so per treatment, and then you are on your way home. The ill effects are often what happens after the treatment is over. Some types of chemotherapy, as we understand it, may be a relatively quick process in terms of the actual administration, but it is what happens after the treatment that may cause a person to need extra help and assistance – which may be more difficult to get if the patient is living at home.

For seniors undergoing treatment, or who are recovering or perhaps in remission, assisted living can provide a number of extremely beneficial services to help in the day-to-day management of the disease, and it’s effects. For starters, many assisted living facilities offer transportation to and from medical appointments, which would include visits to the Oncologist, or treatment appointments. Many facilities also offer medication management – helping the resident to take scheduled medications, and helping to manage side effects that may occur as a result of taking these medications. Many cancer patients – and many seniors in general – have a number of medications that need to be taken – often at very specific times (day or night, with or without meals, etc.). Facilities often times have very talented chefs, who can accommodate very special diets as required by specific diseases or conditions.

Many seniors may be widows or widowers, with their children living in different cities or states, leaving them alone and socially unplugged. Assisted living facilities can provide a readily available environment of human contact and support, which has been convincingly argued to be beneficial to anyone fighting cancer or any other debilitating condition.

Not wishing to go through Chemotherapy

There are those people – including seniors – who decide not to undergo chemotherapy or radiation treatments. This may be due to pre-existing health issues, or because it is simply too harsh on their bodies to continue living an enjoyable life free of the sometimes extreme side effects that the treatment itself can cause. Assisted Living can be helpful in that it can provide a supportive environment – that may eventually lead into hospice or palliative care stages.

About Hospice and Palliative Care and Assisted living

In my e-mail conversation I include at the top of this article, the person commented that “…And, if you are looking for more of a hospice situation than that would not be found at an assisted living facility either.”

I have to wholeheartedly disagree with this one – if you do a simple search of our website and include the word “hospice” or “palliative” – numerous pages of results come up with facilities who offer either, or both palliative and hospice care. I believe that these services will continue to be more and more common with assisted living facilities as time goes on.

The differences from facility to facility, state to state >

One of the more confusing aspects of assisted living is that there really isn’t a set national standard of what is to be provided, especially when you look at facility requirements from one state to another. Often times, the range of what is offered by facilities, even within the same city or state – can vary dramatically.

A facility may be a small, residential home that sees an occasional visiting nurse, and that may only house a handful of residents. Such a facility may also be very rural, far from advanced medical facilities and hospitals – and not appropriate for someone in the advanced stages of cancer or any disease.

On the other hand, a facility may house hundreds of residents, with a full-time nursing and medical staff on hand or readily available, who are expertly trained to care for the many various conditions that seniors may be facing – even cancer. These modern facilities are more resort-like in feel, and will most certainly offer services, care, and amenities that aren’t available to a smaller mom-and-pop operation.

Furthermore, what may be considered a licensed “assisted living facility” in one state may be completely different in another state. Some states, like Michigan, for example, don’t even officially recognize the term “assisted living.” Instead, an assisted living facility is really an “Adult Foster Care” home.

Whether a facility can care for you and your diagnosis really depends on the facility, and what they offer. This is where it is up to you, and your family to research all of the different options available.

Other Important Sites that Discuss Cancer and Assisted Living:

I did do a basic search using the term “assisted living cancer” and a number of important and helpful sites came up. Here are just a few: – A forum-type discussion about assisted living and nursing homes – the question asked was “My mom will begin chemo treatments when she is released from her rehabilitation facility.”

Here is a specific article about Breast Cancer and Senior women, talking about how senior women may undergo less intensive treatment due to advanced age: – Fighting Chance is a Counseling and Resource Center for Cancer Patients. Their site talks about the need for assisted living when the care needed exceeds the resources and capabilities of our homes, families and friends.

We do not wish to claim or suggest that assisted living is the best, or only alternative for seniors facing any stage of cancer or treatment – as there are many options and paths that might be taken. Our main intention with this article and video is to try to debunk the stereotype that assisted living can only help seniors, and/or those who have a memory disorder. Assisted Living, with the services and amenities that many facilities provide, can often times help with a wide range of diseases, ages, and conditions – including, but not limited to cancer.

Finding Assisted Living that Accepts and Works With Residents Who Have Cancer:

Assisted Living Directory has worked with a terrific and experienced group of senior care advisors for almost 9 years now. This is a free service to help you and your family to locate Assisted Living, Senior or Nursing Care for Cancer close to where you are. Assisted Living Directory has worked with these great folks to find care for our own family members – you can read about our personal experience here.

We encouage you to get in touch with our advisors here – there’s no cost or obligation.

– Article and Video produced by the staff at Assisted Living Directory

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