Signs It’s Time for Assisted Living – And How to Start the Conversation
by Lydia Chan | May 26, 2021
We all hope our loved ones will be able to take care of themselves indefinitely. However, that simply isn’t possible for every senior. As we get older, our cognitive function tends to decline. Since this doesn’t happen at a consistent rate, it’s difficult to predict when — if ever — a senior adult will need assistance in order to live safely. However, there are some sure signs that living alone is no longer an option.
Although some families are able to care for senior loved ones themselves, this isn’t always an option. Time, money, and the amount of care your loved one will need can all prevent you from being able to create a truly safe environment. In these cases, the best choice is usually to turn to an assisted living facility. Here are some signs it’s time to consider this option, as well as how to start the conversation in a respectful, compassionate way.
Their Home Is a Hazard
If your loved one cannot safely navigate their home, then you must make a change. Although there are plenty of modifications that can make your loved one’s home safer, they may not be enough. For example, a home with steep stairs, several elevation changes, or uneven floors can be a life-threatening hazard all on its own. Moreover, if your loved one is making dangerous mistakes such as leaving the stove or oven on, then the risk has become too high.
If you know that basic modifications won’t be enough to keep your loved one safe, it’s best to think about your next steps rather than over-invest in major changes such as bathroom renovations. Assisted living is expensive, and the property can be a valuable nest egg for making it economically feasible. Senior safety modifications typically bring a home’s value down. If you know you’ll sell the home anyway, then the less you have to change, the better.
They’re Developing Major Memory Issues
Remember, there is no universal picture of what dementia looks like or how it progresses. Minor memory problems on their own don’t always mean that someone is unable to care for themselves – or even that they will become unable to eventually. After all, nearly all seniors develop some level of minor memory loss and are still perfectly capable of safely handling daily tasks. However, there are some types of memory issues you should view as a red flag.
For example, if you see your loved one start to neglect basic self-care, you should be concerned. This could be a sign of cognitive impairment, as well as depression or physical disability — all of which signal the need to speak with a medical professional. Missing doses of medication is also a red flag since this could lead to serious health complications.
Having the Conversation
For most families, the assisted living conversation will be a difficult one. Even in the best-case scenario, where everyone is on the same page from the start, there’s still substantial grief inherent to the transition. That’s why it’s so important to approach this subject as compassionately and respectfully as possible.
When you speak to your loved one about assisted living, focus on the good things they will receive from the change. For example, many seniors think they’ll have less freedom in assisted living, while the opposite is often true. With some help managing daily tasks, seniors often have more mental and physical energy to do the things they want to do. Help them to see how freeing this transition can be, and remind them that needing help is nothing to be ashamed of.
Assisted living is never a simple choice, but it can be the best one. We hope this article helps you to navigate this process and make the best decision for your and your loved ones’ needs.