If your parents have been living independently for some time, it may be difficult to come to terms with the idea of senior care. However, if they need help with their daily routine or health care that is beyond your ability to provide, assisted living provides structure, socialization, health care monitoring, and other support services.
How can you know for sure that it's time for your loved one to move into assisted living? The answer isn't going to be the same for everybody, but there are signs you can watch for: unusual changes to a senior's daily habits; problems keeping up with personal care, household care or finances; depression or social withdrawal; and health needs that have escalated beyond your ability to cope.
Warning signs can indicate a senior’s need for the type of care provided in assisted living, and are often why families decide to make that step. Let's look in more detail at some of the reasons people move to assisted living:
1. Mobility issues: This is a common reason why families consider assisted living, says Melissa Pratt, A Place for Mom Senior Living Advisor in Boise, ID: an elderly loved one may be bit of a fall risk or need help transferring to a wheelchair, for instance.
2. Trouble keeping up with personal care: Sometimes a senior parent is having trouble with personal hygiene such as showering or keeping clothing clean, or they need help coping with incontinence, dressing themselves, eating properly or other day-to-day care.
3. Home safety issues: This often goes along with mobility issues. If a person is having trouble getting around their home, going up and down stairs, or operating appliances, assisted living may be the way to go. Driving safely may also become an issue.
4. Problems with household care or finances: Household neglect can become a serious problem, whether it's spoiled food, overflowing trash, or failure to pay utility bills.
5. Increasing health care needs: Plenty of family members come to realize that their parent's care needs have moved beyond the caregiver's physical or emotional abilities, particularly if a loved one has dementia.
6. Mild cognitive impairment: Cognitive decline can have serious ramifications, says Melissa Pratt, especially if your loved one can't take medications correctly, is not able to fix a meal or doesn't remember to eat. If a loved one exhibits confusion, poor judgment, or other signs of cognitive impairment, assisted living is often a good next step.
7. Wandering / behavioral issues: These may come into play for seniors with dementia or Alzheimer's disease. When dementia progresses to the point where they begin wandering, or they exhibit behavioral problems such as aggression or anger, a family caregiver may decide their loved one needs residential care.
8. Loneliness or social isolation: If a senior family member is showing signs of loneliness or depression, such as giving up hobbies, withdrawing from friends, or rarely leaving the house, it may be time to consider a senior living residence.
Many seniors may have a great deal of apprehension about moving into assisted living. If resistance is an issue, make sure you convey your own concern for their well-being, and communicate clearly and honestly in order to encourage them to voice their own worries with you.
When the conversation turns to senior care, make sure to talk about the positives of moving to assisted living, such as personalized daily care, social interaction and activity, transportation assistance, and appropriate senior nutrition. A visit to nearby assisted living facilities can go a long way toward assuaging your loved one's fears – and your own. And once you're ready to start the search for assisted living or senior care, A Place for Mom's advisors are here to help guide you through the process.
Are you considering moving your loved one into assisted living? What is the most pressing reason for your decision? Share your thoughts with us in the comments below.
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