Article Summary: In this informative article, we will discuss in detail about when it is time for assisted living for your elderly loved ones. We will review initial questions to ask yourself and loved ones, signs and symptoms to watch for which may speed up the decision, and other important factors to consider for this big decision.
Initial Questions to Consider
One of the initial steps is to consider a series of questions related to different areas of life. The answers will help you decide when assisted living is needed.
Here are 4 important questions to consider related to health:
1. Has your loved one fallen lately?
Another similar question will be if your loved one falls again, how soon would they receive the necessary help? Frequent falls are a sign that a loved one may need special care. In this modern era, we tend to live a busy lifestyle with many competing priorities, and it is becoming increasingly difficult to assist an elderly loved one 24/7. If you notice consecutive falls, then it may be time to seek more help from a team of trained caregivers who would be available 24/7 to assist and care for your loved one.
2. Does your loved one seem to now take more time in recovery after being sick or hurt?
This question will help in determining the answer to whether your loved one may have a weak immune system. If the answer is yes, then it is recommended you help connect your loved one with the additional care as soon as possible. You can talk with the doctor. Having skilled nurses in an assisted living facility might improve the health of your loved one and ensure your loved one has the best treatment.
3. Is your loved one suffering from a chronic health concern? Is the problem getting worse? Does your loved one need full-time care?
If your loved one has a chronic health concern, it may be time to relocate into an assisted living facility. The assisted living facility will create a care plan tailored to the unique needs and situation of your loved one. The staff of the assisted living facility might be able to engage your loved one in healthy activities, including social engagements to help make new friends.
4. Is your loved one taking their prescribed medicines as instructed?
If your loved one is no longer taking medications as intended, then it would be encouraged to identify the reason. Are there any financial issues? Or, did your loved one simply forget to take the medicines? With age, we become increasingly forgetful. An elderly person may sometimes miss their medications or take it twice. If there are financial concerns, then perhaps consider a medical assistance or insurance program. And if medicines are missed due to simple forgetfulness, then it may be the right time to consider an assisted living facility. The assisted living facility would help ensure your loved one takes the correct dose, at the right time, for the indicated duration.
Here are 7 questions related to self-care that help determine when to go to assisted living:
- Is your loved one eating properly?
Can your loved one prepare food and eat it independently? If yes, then it is important to help ensure your loved one continues to eat at least three nutritious meals each day. However, if your loved one is not taking meals at appropriate hours, then take it seriously. Ask about the reasons, and take decisions accordingly. An assisted living facility will prepare healthy nutritious meals, will help feed your loved one, and will encourage healthy lifestyles.
- Is your loved one losing weight?
If your loved one is not eating properly, then there may be weight loss. Rapid weight loss or gain can be a sign of a medical concern, inability to prepare food, or many other reasons. Discuss with your loved one and conclude the best care decisions.
- Have you noticed any hygiene concerns?
Can your loved one take a bath, toilet, and dress by themselves? Do you feel that your loved one has stopped maintaining personal self-care? Do you feel a visible difference in hygiene care before and after? Does your loved one smell because of not taking a shower for many days? If you notice any changes or concerns related to self-care, such as dirty clothes, delayed showers, not combing hair regularly, dirty nails, and cracked feet, take it seriously. These signs indicate that your loved one may be having a hard time managing a self-care routine. The reasons can be psychological, physical, or even an emotional decline. An assisted living facility can provide self-help services such as assistance with bathing, dressing, food preparation, medicine, and maintaining the hygiene for your loved one.
- Are there any issues with mobility?
Does your loved one have trouble walking? Can your loved one transfer to the stairs without help? If not, then it may be time to seek full-time assistance. Otherwise, it can be injurious and harmful if your loved one is left alone.
- Can your loved one drive safely and move around?
If your loved one is unable to move around independently, drive, or no longer uses public transportation, then consider it a serious sign. Would you be able to accompany them to doctor appointments, shopping, or trips around town? If this is not an option, then perhaps relocate your loved one to an assisted living facility that offers transportation and excursions as well.
- Is your loved one able to independently perform household tasks and activities of daily living (ADLs)?
Can your loved one clean their home regularly as they used to do before? What about financial management and laundry? Are the unpaid bills collecting, resulting in increased debt? Are there tons of pending emails, letters, and daily tasks? Is laundry unattended to for weeks, the bathroom is starting to smell, and flies fly around the kitchen due to uncleaned dishes? An assisted living facility can help reduce the stress by providing a sanitary living space where they no longer need to worry about these daily household concerns.
- Are your loved one’s pets clean and well-cared for?
An inability to look after animals is also a sign of problems in daily functioning. If you observe any such concerns with your loved one, talk it out, and consider a relocation to an assisted facility. Some of these facilities are pet friendly and allow pets because they consider animals as a vital part of your loved one's life.
Mental-Health or Dementia-Related Questions
There are 3 questions to consider related to mental-health and dementia that help determine whether your loved one should live in an assisted living facility:
- Has your loved one left home and gotten lost?
Have you noticed your loved one wanders out of the home without knowing what to do next and where to go? Confusion and wandering are symptoms of dementia. If you notice concerns of forgetfulnes, talk to the doctor. People who are diagnosed with dementia benefit from living in an assisted living facility where they receive full-time care. Many assisted living facilities tend to have a memory care unit designed especially for dementia residents to make their life easier and confusion-free.
- Does your loved one become angry or violent easily?
Unusual anger of your loved one is a sign of confusion, frustration, depression, and dementia. If you notice that your loved one seems to become upset about small matters and is no longer patient, then seek help from an assisted living facility.
- Does your loved one feel withdrawn or isolated?
Has your loved one stopped attending social gatherings they used to attend? Does your loved one stay at home all the time? Do you feel your loved one cries too much for no apparent reason? Did your loved one stop talking or sharing concerns and matters on their mind? If so, ask why. There can be any number of reasons, including depression, isolation, mood swings, feeling withdrawn or consequences of a medical illness.
- Does your loved one have a supportive community?
Does your loved one become bored and lonely at home? Having a supportive community is a relief for senior citizens and prevents social isolation. When deciding about the assisted facility option, ask yourself questions related to the community. Does your loved one have a friends circle that regularly checks in with each other by paying visits? Are peers socially engaged and meet daily? If not, have you considered an assisted living facility with social activities, and opportunities to bond with other senior community members and caregivers?
- Did the neighbors express any concerns?
Although your loved one might be living independently in his/her own place, neighbors may notice unusual cases. Discuss with the neighbors about any unusual occurrences they may have observed. The neighbors might share information that would help indicate if it’s the time for your loved one to move to an assisted facility for full-time 24/7 care.
- Is the caregiver providing necessary care?
The role of a caregiver is physically, emotionally, and psychologically exhausting. If you or any other relative is providing caregiver services to your loved one, ask the question about how accurately you are providing the necessary care services. Also, ask for how long you can continue to assist your loved one without burning out yourself or sacrificing another aspect of your life. Your loved one does not want for your quality of life to affected. Sometimes, an assisted living facility is the best option for you and your loved one so that your loved one receives the best care possible.
Questions Leading to Signs
After considering these initial questions, you might receive a clearer picture about what to do next. We would like to provide you with a list of the signs from the mentioned questions to help you decide when the right time may be to consider assisted living as an option:
Here are the signs to consider that will tell you your elderly parent, grandparent or other loved one needs assisted living:
- You are hurt when trying to move or lift your loved one.
- Your loved one becomes forgetful and wanders aimlessly around the house.
- The Alzheimer's has progressed to its final stage, and you may feel worried about safety.
- Your loved one is showing challenging behaviors such as anger, mood swings, paranoia, confusion, forgetfulness, depressions, etc.
- You are sacrificing other responsibilities and neglecting other loved ones.
- You are experiencing caregiver burnout. For example, you become increasingly frustrated, are always tired and stressed, are losing control, and experience lost temper. Caring for your loved one is becoming a burden, rather than a pleasure.
- You notice a decline in your health because of taking care of your loved one. You may experience high blood pressure, headaches, anxiety, depression, arrhythmia, sleep concerns, or gastrointestinal problems.
- Your loved one requires full-time assistance and special care with daily functioning, such as bathing, toileting, dressing, medicines, and food intake.
- The doctor has advised that it may be time for your loved one to move into an assisted living facility.
- Other people, such as relatives, neighbors, and family members have recommended the transition of your loved one into an assisted living facility.
How to Have the Conversation with Your Loved Ones About Assisted Living
Although you may feel it is the right time to consider the transition to assisted living, you might hesitate to raise the assisted living topic with your loved one. The idea of assisted living can carry with it worries over the loss of independence, fears of mortality, and other emotional weights. So, adult children might delay these significant discussions for too long, until their loved one’s condition gets even worse. Do not let that happen to your loved one. Be practical about talking to your loved one, and reasonably handle the issue.
Here are a few tips to consider that will help you talk to your loved one about assisted living facility options:
1. Plant the Seed
Start with planting the seeds, possibly in a relevant situation like after injury, after a decline in health, or when your loved one complains about difficulty accomplishing routine tasks. Keep discussing how assisted living could prevent such falls or injuries in the future because they have experts available 24/7. Also, discuss how they can manage your loved one’s routine activities and will help lighten the burden.
2. Ask Other Family Members to Help
Before making a final decision on assisted living, we encourage you to discuss the option with your siblings, children, spouse, or other family members. Then, you together can plan and come to an agreement about when, how, and where you should convince your loved one to take that immense step. You can talk to your loved one individually and later at a group meeting. Perhaps, you can carry this conversation well over an enjoyable family dinner.
3. Take Your Loved One on a Visit of an Assisted Living Facility
If you feel that your loved one understands or is confused about making the decision, you can offer him/her a site visit before moving to an assisted living facility. There may be many assisted living facilities near you, so you could contact the facilities and arrange tours. The visits will also help relieve fears and confusion, and ensure you select the homiest place that will allow your loved one to thrive. Many facilities offer services from daily routine tasks to special medical care, from dancing to poker nights to bingo, from musical presentations to social gatherings and excursions. Create a list of questions and priorities and then ask away.
4. Take Help from The Family Doctor
If the doctor agrees with the assisted living option and thinks that it will be helpful for your loved one, perhaps engage your loved one in a conversation with the trusted doctor. The doctor may help your loved one better understand why an assisted living facility may be the best option.
5. Don’t Talk as If You Have Already Decided
Talk to your parents about the option of moving to an assisted living facility, however, be sure to consider other choices as well, such as local nursing homes, retirement communities, in-home nursing, a helper at home, or an emergency alarm. Consider discussing the pros and cons of every option and consider your loved one’s opinions and preferences.
6. Select Your Words Cautiously
When trying to talk it out, be careful with the selection of words. Words like "retirement communities" or "community" may be more likable to your loved one than the words “assisted living”, and will definitely sound better than “nursing home” or “old age homes”. Using a pleasant tone will be helpful. Do not forget that your loved one’s health and happiness must be your priority.
7. Reassure Doubts
Your loved one might be concerned that you will not visit often once they will move into an assisted living facility. You must reassure your loved one that you will visit and will remain an active part of his/her life. Maybe your loved one is worried about missing their favorite possessions, such as pets or plants. Ask the assisted facility about if they can bring their favorite possessions with them. It can be hard for your loved one to let go, so reassure him/her that you will be there to comfort them, and then they can still come home whenever they prefer.
The conversation about an assisted living facility will not be easy but if you will handle it carefully, you can manage it.
How to conclude the decision about assisted living
We recommend you perform a thorough analysis before you make this big decision. Here are a few steps which will lead you to the final decision about determining whether it’s the right time to move your loved one to an assisted living facility:
Step 1: Identification
Consider the questions, and check for the symptoms and signs. If you will identify the need for full-time care, then move further. Otherwise, identify potential adjustments that can be made, without a significant relocation.
Step 2: Discussion
If you have identified the problems and need to move to an assisted living facility, then discuss it with other family members, doctors, and the loved one. Ask for the opinion of any related person and decide by mutual agreement.
Step 3: Search for An Assisted Living Facility
Search for the most suitable assisted living facility near you. You can search online, check reviews, or ask others. After finding a few options, you should pay a visit to check the services and facilities. You can take your loved one for a visit as well so that they can tell better if they feel comfortable and would be interested in the transition.
Step 4: Implementation
Finally, you would help your loved one transition into the assisted living facility. Pack the essential items and move him/her to the new home. You can have daily phone calls, visit often, and check-in with the facility frequently.
Final Thought: When Is It Time for Assisted Living?
Admitting that your loved one needs assistance or special care is hard. Identifying that you are unable to provide the best care may be tough as well. However, if you are worried about your aging loved one’s health, happiness, and safety, discuss the possible options for a transition into an assisted living facility. Involve other family members, doctors, and financial advisors in your discussions so that your loved one may understand all the senior living options available.
Please review our Assisted Living services to see such facilities in your area. We offer a wide range of services by connecting you and assisted living facilities in your area. If you are interested in additional guidance or support, please contact us.
About the Author:
"When Is It Time for Assisted Living? 10 Signs & 17 Questions to Ask" is authored by Anisha Rao, MPP, Healthcare Consultant, Certified Lean Six Sigma Green Belt Healthcare Professional. Anisha holds a Master of Public Policy from the University of Maryland, Baltimore County, as well as a Bachelor of Arts in Health Administration and Public Policy, a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology, and a Minor in Management of Aging Services. Anisha has extensive experience in Healthcare Services and Aging issues, including dementia care, senior health, and nursing home care. Anisha is passionate about ensuring seniors receive the best care possible and empowering seniors to become more involved in their care planning decisions.