Assisted living is something most adult children prefer to avoid when it comes to aging parents. Determining the right time to make the transition can be difficult, especially if your mom or dad is adamant about being “fine” and not in need of help. These conversations are almost always difficult and sensitive, but are critical discussions nonetheless.
The best course of action is to talk to your parents early on about their preferences—prior to the development of aging disabilities—but there are a few tell-tale signs which indicate you can’t put off the talk any longer. Here are some things to look out for that may signal it’s time for your parent to receive assisted living.
- Difficulty with Basic Tasks
The inability to manage basic, day-to-day tasks is probably the first sign that will alert you to your parent’s aging and decline in health. You might notice dishes piling up in the sink, trash everywhere, and a general lack of upkeep in daily chores. Falling behind on housekeeping might not be a significant cause for alarm at first (because we all get a little dirty from time to time, right?) and hiring a maid can keep your parent at home longer, but if these difficulties affect their personal hygiene, it’s time to intervene. Poor hygiene can lead to lesions, bed sores and various health concerns which have the potential to become infected and lead to serious damage.
- Significant Weight Loss
If you haven’t seen your elderly parent in some time and they appear significantly thinner than the last time you were together, it’s a cause for concern. Although grocery delivery services are readily available, they might forget a meal altogether, or be too proud to admit their inability to cook meals. Other factors may contribute to their sudden weight loss as well, such as forgetting to take medication or muscular dystrophy due to lack of exercise. Most assisted living centers offer senior-friendly exercise classes, but all of them will ensure your parent is properly fed and medicated.
- Frequent Injuries
As your parent have gotten older, hopefully you’ve invested in medical alert systems to notify you in the event of any accidents or falls. If you’ve been alarmed with increased frequency, it probably means your parent’s mobility has been impaired. What was once a slight slip could now cause a broken back, hip, or knee injury. Surgery for elderly patients can come with many complications as well as expensive hospital stays, and it’s best to avoid any further mishaps by having hands-on care available at all times.
- Cognitive Impairment
Ignoring signs of cognitive impairment can be seriously dangerous for your loved one’s safety. Watch to see if your aging parent begins to exhibit signs of confusion, forgetfulness, poor judgement, wandering, or temperamental issues such as aggression or anger. These are usually the first symptoms of dementia and Alzheimer’s disease, which could lead to major ramifications if left unacknowledged. They can become lost, disoriented, step out into moving traffic and put themselves in harm’s way. Protect against this by placing constant supervision over your loved one’s safety at an assisted living center.
- Isolated Loneliness
Unfortunately, loneliness and depression too frequently ail seniors who have given up hobbies and withdrawn from friends. After losing their ability to drive, becoming immobile can make a home feel like a prison, and their disability could lead to a diminished sense of self-worth. Nursing homes are a great way to get your loved ones reengaged with peers, stimulate their social life, increase their company and alleviate any loneliness.
It may never feel like the “right” time to move your parent into a home, and making the final decision can be a hard pill to swallow. No matter how difficult it may initially seem, remember that safety is priority, and the peace of mind offered by professional care will be well worth the transition into a home.