6 Signs It May Be Time for Assisted Living
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Your aging parents may be fiercely independent, living on their own and managing their daily lives with ease. However, for many aging adults, alternative living arrangements become necessary when they are becoming less self-reliant.
Even though you may not want to consider assisted living for your loved ones, you'll need to make a responsible decision that benefits them and your peace of mind. If you’re wondering whether now is the right time, look for the following six signs that mean it’s time to move to assisted living.
1. Big-Picture Signs: Red Flags You Can't Miss
Some signs are more important than others, and these signs are big red flags for seniors. If you, your parents, or other loved ones are exhibiting the following signs, they may need the help of assisted living sooner than you think.
Recent accidents: Do you often find your loved one on the floor? Constantly falling can lead to broken bones, head injuries or something worse. When medical scares happen, help won't always be available to come to the rescue immediately – and that could result in death. If minor and serious accidents are occurring more frequently, it’s time to have the on-hand help of assisted living.
Slow recovery: If a senior has difficulty overcoming the common cold and other illnesses, it’s increasingly difficult to ensure they’re healthy on a daily basis. What's needed is a staff that can consistently respond without delay, caring for even the simplest illnesses.
Worsening condition: Progressive medical problems, such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and Alzheimer's disease, will gradually deteriorate your loved one's quality of life. At some point, he or she will require more attention and care than can be provided at home.
Difficulties doing basic living activities: For elderly people, the basic activities of daily living can be time-consuming and challenging to carry out. These activities include bathing, feeding, toileting, dressing, and getting around. If your aging parent has limited mobility or poor range of motion, he or she needs a constant helping hand.
2. Up-Close Signs: Discern Vague Problems Through Physical Contact and Close Examination
When making the decision about assisted living, you’ll want to make sure you assess your – or your loved one’s – physical condition. While all might seem well, certain changes in physical demeanor can signal important medical conditions or the need for day-to-day help, such as:
Noticeable weight loss or gain: It's common for elderly people to lose their appetite. Often, contributing factors are oral problems and certain illnesses, such as depression and dementia. When sudden changes in weight occur, assisted living care providers can help. The hands-on staff at the facility will handle the planning and preparation of meals.
Increasing frailty: Physical weakness is among the top side effects of aging. This means you can expect seniors to become more needy and dependent on help for the simplest activities. If a senior is growing so frail that tasks like standing are difficult, it’s time to consider help.
Strange odor: It's typical for elderly people to give off a somewhat unpleasant body odor. What gives rise to this is a substance called nonenal. Whether your aging parent is suffering from nonenal or not, he or she might just have bad hygiene habits – and bad hygiene could be a sign of something more serious.
3. Social Signs: Exhibits Characteristics of a Loner
One of the biggest issues with seniors is isolation. As they become less able to perform different activities and begin staying at home more, they can experience loneliness, anxiety, and sadness – or even depression, if conditions worsen.
If your loved one has become indifferent to the idea of having friends, don't be too alarmed. Most elderly people would like to be an active member of a social circle, but they may be unable to get involved because of anxiety, sadness, or depression. However, if a senior refuses to engage in activities that he or she loves, take note.
Assisted living facilities can help soothe these problems. Studies, SeniorLiving.org¹ reports, show that the right assisted living facility can help elderly people rediscover their drive to do what makes them happy. The best solution may involve moving them to an assisted living facility that has regular group outings, daily activities, and a vibrant social community.
4. Driving Signs: Pay Close Attention to Driving Problems
If you spot a new dent in the family car every time your loved one returns home, you have every reason to be concerned. The inevitable process of aging gradually impairs seniors’ senses, especially hearing and vision. It also affects the ability to remember things, such as the universal rules of the road.
Pay attention to seniors’ driving habits. If they’re tailgating, driving far below the speed limit, or weaving in and out of traffic, it's time to take the car away or move to an assisted living facility because reckless driving puts everyone in jeopardy – and at an assisted living facility, the dangers of driving are eliminated.
5. Kitchen Signs: Lack of Cooking and Inattentiveness
Take a good look inside the refrigerator. You'll smell a strong odor if the food has expired. When vegetables and fruits are left in the fridge for days or weeks, it's safe to assume that your loved one is eating takeout or skipping meals altogether.
Forgetfulness is also problematic. If your loved one often forgets to turn off the stove, it's highly likely an accident like a major fire could occur. Err on the side of caution, and start looking for an assisted living facility.
6. Home Signs: Untidy Living Quarters Speak Volumes
Cleaning and tidying up around the house becomes increasingly difficult for seniors, especially as mobility becomes more limited. However, a cluttered, dirty home can be problematic and a big warning sign of potential danger. Make sure to look for signs of the following in a senior’s home if you’re worried about their ability to live alone:
Clutter and grime: Are you able to walk through the home without tripping over piles of trash or dirty clothes? Stained bathtubs, dirty kitchens, and cluttered rooms are a serious health hazard the elderly. In fact, according to the National Council on Aging², an elderly person is taken to the emergency room every 11 seconds. One dies every 19 minutes because of a slip-and-fall accident.
Neglected pets: Pets need daily care just as humans do. Unfortunately, if a senior adult isn't doing a good job with self-care duties, he or she isn't in a position to deliver proper pet care either.
Unopened bills and lots of mail: For struggling seniors, checking the mailbox on a regular basis is probably not a priority. If he or she is becoming more frail and absent-minded, taking care of the bills could be a tall order. Check to make sure bills and mail aren’t being left unchecked or unanswered.
Where to Find Help
You don't have to overextend yourself to help your aging parent or loved one lead a more satisfying life. Just take the time to do research on the immediate and long-term benefits of assisted care providers. The goal is to find a facility that suits your loved one.
Like anything, it's always a good idea to be aware of the latest research. We recommend comparing at least 3 or 4 options before making a final decision. Doing a search online is typically the quickest, most thorough way to discover all the pros and cons you need to keep in mind.