Families hope for a lightbulb moment when they know beyond a doubt that it’s time to move an aging parent to assisted living. In reality, the transition from independent senior to elder in need of care is much more subtle. As a result, many seniors remain at home long after it becomes unsafe.
While staying at home may preserve a senior’s independence, it’s rife with risks. Seniors living alone can fall, develop mental health issues due to isolation, or be taken advantage of financially. That’s why it’s so important to move to assisted living when a senior first needs help — not when it’s too late. But how do you know when that is?
5 Signs It’s Time to Consider Assisted Living
A single fall can be brushed off as an accident, but if a senior is falling repeatedly or has bumps and bruises they can’t explain, it may mean their home is no longer safe.
Worsening health problems
Chronic health problems are complicated to manage. If a senior is struggling to maintain a treatment regimen at home or not taking medication properly, it may lead to rapidly worsening health problems.
Has your senior loved one lost weight, or do they eat the same bland foods for every meal? Between arthritis, mobility problems, and loneliness, it can be difficult for elders to maintain a healthy diet at home.
Hygiene and housekeeping problems
Mobility problems also make it hard to keep clean, but it’s not the only cause of a disheveled appearance. Neglecting self-care or housekeeping can also be a sign of mental health problems in seniors.
Wandering is one of the scariest problems for seniors living alone, because an aging-in-place senior can wander away from home without anyone noticing. A senior tracking device may help, but since wandering is a symptom of dementia, it’s important to take this warning sign seriously.
Moving to Senior Living: How to Talk About It
Talk About the Options
It’s common to associate all senior living with nursing homes, but there are a lot of options that older adults may not know about. In addition to assisted living, which provides support for the activities of daily living in an age-friendly environment, seniors can look into independent living. Unlike assisted living, independent living doesn’t provide personal care. However, you will find amenities like laundry, lawn care, and home maintenance that make everyday life easier.
When discussing options, you’ll need to consider how to pay for senior living because the cost can add up quickly, depending on where you live and the amenities offered. Many seniors are able to afford assisted living through selling their home. Another option is to sell their life insurance policy for a lump sum if their policy can be sold. If your senior loved one isn’t sure about their policy and you’re unable to locate it, you may be able to find their policy by searching their home for old bills, bank statements, and cancelled checks.
Highlight the Positives
Highlight all your loved one has to gain by moving to assisted living. In assisted living, seniors no longer have to worry about housekeeping, cooking, or running errands, and they have a community of peers right outside their front door to keep social isolation at bay. In addition, many assisted living communities offer amenities that seniors won’t find at home, like on-site exercise classes, movie theaters, and wellness programs.
Let Seniors Take the Lead
Let your senior parent take the lead on planning the assisted living move. When seniors have the opportunity to tour assisted living communities and pick the place where they’re happiest, they feel like they have control over the process and are more likely to be content with the move. That’s not to say families shouldn’t help! Loved ones still have an important role to play in helping their senior loved one declutter, pack, and plan their downsize.
Learn More About Assisted Living
It’s also important that you’re educated before heading into the assisted living conversation. Use these links to read up on assisted living so you can serve as a resource for your senior loved one.
- 8 questions to ask when selecting an assisted living facility.
- 9 tips for touring an assisted living community.
- All-inclusive vs. a la carte: Which pricing structure is best for assisted living?
- Paying for assisted living: 9 options.
- Moving to assisted living checklist: 19 things you’ll need to pack.
Assisted living shouldn’t be something for seniors to fear. In fact, it’s worth looking forward to! Assisted living is more than a safe place for seniors. It’s somewhere older adults can live to their full potential because they’re in an environment that puts seniors’ needs first.
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