Can My Loved One With a Mental Health Condition Move Into an Assisted Living Community?

If you have a family member with a serious mental illness who’s getting older, you might wonder if they’ll be able to move into an assisted living community. Most facilities are able to make accommodations for someone with a serious mental illness, but the right community won’t simply meet the individual’s minimum needs. Instead, it will support them in managing their condition and achieving and maintaining high quality of life.

Why Finding the Right Community To Support Mental Illness Is So Important

On finding appropriate housing for older adults living with mental illness, Michael B. Friedman, LMSW, says:

“For adults with psychiatric disabilities of all ages, stable housing is a critical need – perhaps, in fact, their most critical need … For older adults with long-term psychiatric disabilities, finding decent, affordable, and stable housing is an even greater challenge than it is for younger adults.”

Friedman goes on to list key reasons that older adults with serious mental illness have trouble finding appropriate housing:

  • Because they are less likely to be able to live at home with their own parents
  • Because there are very few housing programs designed for older adults with serious mental illness
  • Because older adults with mental illness are increasingly likely to have co-occurring physical disorders and/or dementia, which may not be able to accommodated by some communities

Unfortunately, most residential homes for individuals with mental illness are designed for younger people. The facilities don’t have the equipment they need to care for older adults, and the staff isn’t trained to do so. Many senior care communities aren’t prepared to care for older adults with mental illness, either, leaving them and their families in a tough situation. For most families, assisted living is the best choice, but you do want to be sure that the community you choose can give your loved one the care they need to not only manage their condition, but thrive.

Dr. Regina Koepp, clinical geropsychologist, and founder and director of the Center for Mental Health & Aging, notes that while most assisted living communities are prepared to handle mild-to-moderate depression or anxiety, many simply aren’t prepared for handling a more serious mental illness:

“There are some mental health conditions that are expected in assisted living environments, like depression and anxiety, which often occur with dementia and medical conditions. In fact, one in three residents takes medication for a mental health condition. But when it comes to what we call serious mental illness (SMI), which includes bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, and other psychotic disorders, among other conditions, assisted living communities are less prepared to meet their needs.”

That doesn’t mean that you can’t find an assisted living community that will work for your family! You just have to work to understand your loved one’s needs, and make sure that the community you choose can meet those needs. 

As Dr. Koepp says:

“It’s important for families helping their older loved ones … to consider the unique needs of folks with SMI, including helping them find senior living communities that can meet their needs.”

What Should You Look for in an Assisted Living Facility For an Adult With a Mental Illness?

Someone with a mental health condition can absolutely live in an assisted living community, but choosing the right community is very important. A big part of managing mental health conditions is care. That includes self-care, as well as care from others. But too much care from others can make the individual feel coddled or like they don’t have a say in their own life. Finding the community that can provide the right balance of care and independence is crucial.

Medication Management

After helping her parents make the move to a senior living community in 2011, Candy Cohn realized that the transition to senior living is complex and emotional, and that families could benefit from support from someone who’s been through the experience. She became a Certified Senior Advisor and has been helping people make the move to senior living ever since.

Candy realized that her aging parents needed to make the move to a senior community when her father unintentionally stopped taking the medication for his bipolar disorder and experienced a significant mental health crisis. He had to be hospitalized and go through an intensive treatment plan.

She knew that to keep this from happening again, she needed to help her older parents find an assisted living community, where they would have access to medication management and other opportunities for a better quality of life than they were getting at home. Medication is often extremely important when it comes to managing serious mental health conditions like Bipolar disorder, major depression, and schizophrenia. Medication management gives you and your loved one peace of mind. 

24/7 On-site Medical Care

Mental illness, even more serious conditions, can often be managed well with medication and other treatments, but it’s good to have 24/7 medical care available, just in case. 

Transportation to and From Appointments

Mental health counseling plays an important role in managing mental illness, whether it’s depression or anxiety, or something more serious, like bipolar disorder. When you’re thinking of moving a loved one with mental illness to an assisted living community, consider whether or not they will be able to get to their medical and mental health appointments as needed. At Eagle Flats Village, we offer transportation in and around the Vernon, Texas and Wilbarger County area.

Opportunities for Self-care

Self-care is an important part of managing mental illness. The right community will offer opportunities for exercise, healthy eating, and stress relief. When someone with a mental health condition has the resources they need to care for themself, they can better manage their condition and achieve a higher quality of life.

Opportunities for Socialization

Research shows that connections with other people are incredibly important when it comes to managing mental illness. Studies have found that individuals with bipolar disorder with low social support take longer to recover from episodes and those with high social support exhibited less suicidal behavior. Adults with strong social connections also have a reduced risk of depression, as well as a reduced risk of other significant health problems, including high blood pressure and an unhealthy body mass index (BMI).

Older adults who live alone often feel cut off from others, and may feel lonely, depressed, or isolated. Living in a community gives them the opportunity to reap the many benefits of building social connections.

Customized Care Plans

You’ll want to look for an assisted living community that offers fully customized care plans, based on the needs and wants of the individual. Specifically, you’ll want to make sure that the community can accommodate the needs related to the mental health condition. These needs might include things like medication management, mental health care or specific safety precautions.

A Full-service Community

A full-service community is ideal for someone with mental illness. Someone who struggles with depression may find it hard to do seemingly simple things like do laundry or take out the trash. A full-service community that offers housekeeping, maintenance and laundry services, like Eagle Flats Village, could be very helpful in this situation.

Aging Is a Privilege – And Everyone Has a Right To Navigate the Process With Joy and Purpose

At Eagle Flats Village, we believe that aging is a privilege, and that everyone has the right to live their golden years with joy and purpose. That’s why we’re dedicated to providing our residents with everything they need to live a maintenance-free life – private apartments with bathrooms and kitchenettes, housekeeping and maintenance services, daily home-cooked meals, a full calendar of social and recreational opportunities, and more. 

We also provide assistance with ADLs (activities of daily living) like grooming, hygiene, and dressing, as well as medication management, 24-hour care under the direction of a registered nurse, and transportation to and from medical appointments, stores, events and venues, and more.

When someone you love is living with a mental illness, the decision to transition them into senior living can be extra hard, but you can rest easy when you move your loved one into our community. We do everything we can to help our residents with mental health conditions to achieve the same high quality of life that we offer all of our residents. 

Ready to see our compassionate and vibrant community for yourself?

Schedule your visit today.



Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *