When is it Time for Senior Living?
Knowing when it may be time to begin the search for senior living for a loved one can be challenging. On one hand, many seniors prefer to remain in their own homes and maintain their independence. On the other hand, living without access to 24-hour assistance when it's needed can pose a serious health risk.
So, when is it time to put parents in senior living? Learn about the top signs it's time for assisted living.
What is Assisted Living?
Assisted living* may be a practical middle-ground solution that allows your loved one to reside in a home-like setting while maintaining their independence and receiving help with daily activities like meal preparation, housekeeping, laundry, dressing, and bathing. Assisted living facilities offer various levels of medical and personal care, as needed. Housing options usually include private rooms or shared living spaces.
When Is It Time for Assisted Living?
Becoming a caregiver for a loved one can be a rewarding but challenging experience. Over time, many caregivers struggle with the burdens of tending to another's emotional and physical needs while maintaining balance with their own relationships, finances, and other responsibilities.
For many families, the decision to move into an assisted living facility is based on the realization that an elderly loved one may require more help than the caregiver can offer. Moving a parent or another elderly loved one into a senior living facility may not be an easy decision, but there are certain things to watch for to identify the right time to begin the transition.
Here are seven signs it's time for assisted living:
A Decline in Health
The risk of developing a significant chronic disease increases as seniors age. According to the American Association of Retired Persons (AARP), "More than 70 million Americans ages 50 and older—four out of five older adults—suffer from at least one chronic condition.” The cause of chronic illnesses in aging adults varies from lifestyle changes to longer life expectancies.
Seniors living with chronic illnesses may find it difficult to handle basic tasks such as dressing, grooming, cleaning, bathing, and eating. They also have a higher rate of emergency room visits and hospitalization. If your loved one seems to require more medical attention lately, and you believe it’s unsafe for them to continue living alone, it may be time for senior living.
Many seniors experience a decline in their ability to keep track of bills and finances as they age. Once insurance, electricity, credit cards, medical, and other bills begin to pile up, the repercussions of late fees and penalties can quickly add up. Elderly individuals also often fall prey to financial scams, which can put them in debilitating financial dilemmas.
Worsening Symptoms of Alzheimer's or Other Dementias
The symptoms of Alzheimer's disease and other dementias worsen over time. In the initial phases of these progressive diseases, mild memory loss may occur. However, with late-stage Alzheimer's or other dementias, individuals can quickly lose the ability to take care of themselves.
While there's not a current cure for dementia, certain treatments and practices provided by facilities may be able to slow down symptoms and improve the well-being of those with Alzheimer's. As a caregiver, if your ability to care for your loved one's needs is beyond your capabilities or it would be unsafe for the person you're caring for to continue living on their own, it may be time to consider a senior living facility that provides memory care.
Isolation Has Become a Problem
Seniors may have difficulty driving. Oftentimes, it can also be challenging to secure transportation to doctors’ appointments, hobbies, events, and gatherings with friends or family.
If transportation has become an issue for your loved one, not participating in their usual activities can lead to isolation. Senior isolation is a major problem that can lead to serious health repercussions like:
- Addiction: Seniors who are frequently isolated may turn to substances like smoking, drinking, and prescription drugs in an effort to fill the void.
- Depression: The lack of purpose or connection to others can lead to depression, which could be an agent for other diseases such as heart disease or dementia.
- Mortality: According to the National Institute on Aging (NIA), "Loneliness automatically triggers a set of related behavioral and biological processes that contribute to the association between loneliness and premature death in people of all ages."
If isolation is an issue for your loved one, moving them into a senior living community can achieve many benefits. There are plenty of opportunities to socialize, plus several scheduled activities or events to choose from, allowing them to spend their days the way they want to. Assisted living facilities also often have scheduled shuttle transportation, so they can get help running errands, going to the doctor, and picking up prescriptions.
Untidy Living Conditions
An unkempt or odorous living space may be a sign that it's time for assisted living. When a senior gets to the point of being unable to vacuum floors, take out the trash, wash dishes, or handle other essential tasks, he or she might need extra assistance with other daily responsibilities, too. Chances are, seniors who are unable to pick up after themselves and take care of their homes also struggle with preparing healthy meals or even remembering to eat.
Poor Hygiene or Disheveled Appearance
For seniors, changes in hygiene is a common problem that may stem from a decline in vision, a cognitive issue, or depression. If your previously tidy and put-together loved one begins to wear soiled clothing or has an unpleasant body odor, it could be an indication that he or she is unable to bathe or do laundry.
Recognizable Weight Loss
According to the National Council on Aging (NCOA), over 10 million seniors are at risk of hunger, and about 10 percent of adults experience malnutrition. If your loved one becomes visibly thinner than usual, this could be caused by a lack of nutrition, a lack of eating, or a serious medical issue.
In an assisted living community, staff prepare all meals for the residents, so they don’t have to worry about the chore of cooking or cleaning. Oftentimes, facilities can also help bring residents to the dining room or remind them of scheduled meal times. They can even help residents with eating and ensure that any medical issues causing weight loss are being addressed appropriately.
So, when is the right time for assisted living? If you recognize one or more of these signs in your loved one, consult with a doctor to determine which type of senior living solution can provide the level of care they require.
If you’re ready to look for a senior living community that helps your loved ones maintain their independence in an environment that helps them Be Distinctive and Live Fully, contact us today.
*Assisted living is called personal care in select states.