Bringing up assisted living with a parent might be a touchy subject. It can be hard to know when to start the conversation. But in some cases, it might be the best way to keep them safe, healthy and, ultimately, happy. Here’s a look at five key indicators that it’s time to consider assisted living.
Needs Help with Activities of Daily Living
Is your parent telling you that he is eating, but you’re seeing food go bad in the refrigerator, or have noticed a significant weight loss? Are they wearing the same clothes when you go to visit? When you look around the house, is it as neat and clean as it used to be? If you answer yes to any of these questions, your parent might be struggling with activities of daily living. Activities of daily living include anything needed to live independently, such as meal preparations and eating, toileting, bathing, putting on clothes, grooming and more.
Although difficulties with these types of activities can sometimes be remedied by bringing in in-home help, it might be a sign that your loved one would benefit from assisted living. It can also be costly, and does not allow your loved one to socialize with others their own age.
Has Chronic Medical Conditions
Does your aging parent have a chronic health condition that's worsening? Although progressive problems such as COPD, dementia and congestive heart failure can decline gradually, your loved one will increasingly need help.
As chronic diseases progress, it might also mean the addition of medications to your loved one’s daily routine. Does your parent remember to take medications correctly, and at the right time? Are medications expired? If your loved one has a chronic medical condition and has difficulty managing medications, they might benefit from the medication management provided at an assisted living community. While sometimes an adult child or in-home caregiver helps with medication set-up, assisted living communities also have nursing staff that can monitor how medications interact with each other, and their effectiveness.
Relies on Family or Friends for Errands
Does your parent still drive? Or do they have alternate means of transportation? Do they have friends, or are they isolated from others most of the time? If you think your aging loved one goes days without leaving the house because they can no longer drive, is afraid to take public transportation alone or lacks a companion to come along, they might benefit from the social connections available through assisted living.
Lack of active friendships and social isolation can have far-reaching impacts on your parent’s health and safety. If you notice they’re relying on family or friends for errands and outings, it might be time to look at assisted living. Not only do these communities offer regular outings that may keep you parent more mobile and active, but they also provide a social circle for your loved one, and a sense of independence they might not feel they have at home.
Has Fallen Recently
Is your parent’s home equipped with safety features, such as grab bars and emergency response systems? According to the National Council on Aging, falls are the leading cause of fatal and non-fatal injuries for older Americans. Maybe you notice your loved one seeming more frail or there’s been a recent accident or close call or they need help going up and down stairs. If something happens when your loved one is home alone, is there someone who can respond quickly?
As people get older, the odds of accidents happening rise. If your loved one has fallen recently or is at risk of falling, consider assisted living, where mobility and safety issues are handled by a trained staff of health care professionals.
Needs More Than 10 Hours of Home Care
When considering assisted living, it’s also important to consider how you, the caregiver, is doing.
If you are a family caregiver for a loved one, ask yourself are you feeling irritable or hopeless, struggling with emotional and physical exhaustion, or getting sick more often? When you look at your parent, do you see a more limited person who needs some help more than one hour a day? Caregiver burnout is a sign that your parent’s ability to care for themselves has declined. If your loved one's need for care is wearing you out, it’s probably time to start considering your options.
If your family has hired an in-home caregiver, evaluate the cost as compared to a community setting as care needs increase.