Assisted living is a housing option for older adults who want or need help with everyday activities, such as cooking meals, housekeeping, and keeping doctor’s appointments. In addition, this type of community can provide your loved one with maintenance-free living and social bonding that many older adults need at their age.
When your loved one’s health and safety is placed at risk because of their continued stay in their own home, assisted living may be your only option. Some assisted living homes even provide special memory care services for patients with Alzheimer’s and dementia needs.
Signs that your loved one needs to be moved into residential care:
For a lot of us, it may be difficult to accept that our loved ones are no longer capable of living on their own. However, we cannot ignore the signs that indicate it’s time to consider moving them into an assisted living facility. Some of these signs are glaringly obvious but others require more communication. It’s important to spend time with the elderly adults in your family and determine their real condition.
Emergencies or Incidents
Falls, injuries, and similar incidents, especially if these incidents have happened several times, can be indicative of a mobility problem. These episodes could be caused by complications of diabetes and other diseases, stiffness in the joints, and porous bones. Because falls can be serious and even fatal in older patients, twenty-four hour monitoring may be necessary, which assisted living facilities can provide.
Bodily changes in the patient, such as changes in appearance, unusual body odor, and obvious weight loss can be indicative of advancing health problems or difficulty in managing daily activities. A patient with notable changes in appearance and strange bodily smells could have trouble bathing or grooming themselves due to decreased physical strength while weight loss could be brought about by lack of appetite or proper nutrition.
It is common for elderly patients to suffer depression especially after the death of a spouse. Because loneliness and depression can lead to mood swings, loss of sleep and appetite, as well as contemplation of suicide, it is important for your loved one to have regular social interactions that they can get at assisted living facilities.
Clutter could also be a sign that you should consider assisted living for your loved one. Messy and unkempt surroundings could be a sign of many things. It could mean that your loved one is suffering from a physical or mental issue if they are showing signs of hoarding or inability to throw anything away. Thick dust, cobwebs, bathroom molds, and other signs of sloppy housekeeping could indicate that your loved one is no longer physically able to tidy things up.
Security and Safety Issues
If your loved one has been involved in security and safety issues like a major accident or a fire because of forgetfulness, leaving them to continue fending for themselves is no longer an option especially since there is a possibility that their condition will only deteriorate with the passage of time. It’s also important to note that while forgetfulness is a normal part of aging, it could also suggest more serious conditions, such as Alzheimer’s or dementia.
Because of their frailty, the elderly can easily catch a cold or become involved in accidents. When these things happen to your loved one, make sure to monitor their recovery. If the patient’s condition usually gets worse or when recovery is slow, it could be time to take them to an assisted living facility where capable staff can look after their health needs for a majority of the time.
Inability to Manage Finances
The inability to manage money is an early indicator of cognitive impairment. One of the best ways to find out whether your loved one is having trouble with their finances is to check their mail. Be on the lookout for communication from creditors, insurance companies, and banks particularly when they are about recent accidents, overdrawn accounts, and late payments. You should also be on the lookout for letters from charities or possible scammers because impaired mental skills can make the elderly vulnerable.
Many older adults like to assert their independence by driving themselves so now and then, it’s important to check if they are still properly able to do so. Check the condition of their car for dents or nicks and make sure to ride with them while they drive so you can observe whether they still follow safe driving protocols, such as fastening seatbelts, reacting to traffic lights in a timely manner, following the speed limit, and many others. If you think your loved one’s ability to drive alone safely is impaired, moving them to an assisted living facility is a way to ensure that they won’t be a danger to themselves and to others.
Anxiety at Living Alone
Apart from safety and health reasons, another important factor to consider when thinking of assisted living for your loved one is their emotional state. If they are constantly showing signs of anxiety or loneliness while living alone, then moving them to an assisted living facility may be the best thing for their well-being.
Caregiver stress refers to the mental, emotional, and physical toll of bearing the pressures of caring for someone with special health needs. This strain includes sleep and eating disruptions and signals that the demands of caregiving have become too much to handle. Caregiver stress is especially difficult for caregivers who are also members of the family, such as the spouse, parent, or child of the patient. If the primary caregiver, such as yourself or another member of the family, is experiencing caregiver stress, residential care could be the solution.
Mistakes to avoid when choosing an assisted living facility:
Thinking only of the here and now
Before choosing an assisted living facility, you need to consider the present needs of your loved ones as well as their needs in the future. Careful planning is crucial because moving your loved ones from one facility to another as their needs change will not only be physically and emotionally disruptive and costly but could also have adverse effects on an elderly with dementia who may have difficulty adapting to changes.
Choosing a facility based on your own preferences
The facility will be your loved one’s home for hopefully a very long time so it only makes sense that the community you choose is what your loved one prefers. Of course, it’s not always practical or even possible to ask for your loved one’s opinion but you can always take into account their personality and inclinations.
Thinking that the more expensive the facility is, the better
Luxury in senior living communities shouldn’t be your priority when choosing an assisted living facility because state-of-the-art equipment and fancy accommodations don’t always mean quality care. Take time to do your research about a facility and learn to trust your intuition. During your visit, make sure to talk to the staff and the residents and ask them about their level of satisfaction. If you can see that they are genuinely happy, then you know that the facility is worth considering.
Choosing a facility based on proximity
It’s understandable if you want to be able to spend as much time with your loved one as possible but selecting a community based solely on its nearness is a mistake. For one, your loved one will be involved in many activities that there is little chance that they will feel bored or lonely. Moreover, while the idea of being able to visit every day provides you comfort, trying to follow through will put you under a lot of strain.
Ignoring the details
Contracts with assisted living facilities are generally straightforward but they could still contain confusing clauses or ambiguous conditions that require the payment of additional fees. If you are not aware of these provisions, you will be caught unprepared and saddled with costly fees that you might have difficulty paying. You can ask the help of a lawyer if after reading the fine print there are still conditions that are not completely clear.
Finally, here is a checklist of factors that you need to think about before choosing an assisted living facility:
Staff experience and training
Staff experience with your loved one’s condition
Ability of staff to administer medication
Nurses who are available 24/7
Availability of outdoor space
Types of apartments
Monthly cost of apartments
Billing and payment policies
Cost of additional services
Moving your loved one to an assisted living facility is a major decision, which is why there are many factors to consider. Not all older adults, however, need assisted living. If your loved one has rich social connections in the neighborhood and is well-adjusted emotionally but you worry about their failing physical health or their ability to take care of themselves, consider getting in-home care for them. You can contact professional caregivers or home health aides to see if they can be of help in your situation.