Signs Your Loved One May Be Ready for Assisted Living
Assisted living facilities support residents with everyday tasks like cleaning, cooking, and personal hygiene. They may also offer nursing care and can help with medication management and on-site physical therapy. If you have a parent or grandparent who is struggling to care for themselves, assisted living can ease the burden of everyday tasks.
Moving to an assisted living facility can give seniors the security they deserve while also providing you with valuable peace of mind. Making the move isn’t always easy, however, as the majority of seniors prefer to “age in place” in their existing homes. Read on to learn about when it’s time to make the switch and how to approach the topic with sensitivity.
Physical signs your loved one would benefit from assisted living
As people get older, they experience a natural decline in physical ability. Loss of muscle, coordination, and flexibility can make climbing stairs and standing up more difficult. Seniors also experience a decrease in balance, which makes them more prone to accidents from slips and falls.
If your senior loved one is experiencing accidents they may have bruises or even broken or fractured bones. Sometimes seniors cover up the signs of such injuries precisely because they want to maintain their independence. Keep an eye out for symptoms of physical ailments. A limp could indicate a sore ankle following a tumble, for example.
Another indicator that your loved one may be having trouble with day-to-day physical tasks is the state of their home. Is the space clean, or are dishes stacked in the sink and dust gathered on the shelves? Is the fridge well-stocked or full of expired products? Is the laundry done, or are dirty clothes piling up? A failure to take care of tasks like cleaning and grocery shopping could mean they find them too tiring. Senior hoarding is also an indication that they’re having difficulty carrying out tasks.
Mental signs your loved one would benefit from assisted living
There are also mental aspects you can assess when considering whether a person is still fit to live on their own. Keep an eye out for early signs of dementia. Red flags to look out for include difficulty finding a specific word, mood swings, problems following story lines, and general confusion.
The memory loss that comes with dementia makes seniors more susceptible to accidents. For instance, they might forget about a pot on the stove which could be a fire risk, or fail to find their way home after a walk around the neighborhood. In an assisted living facility, these risks are reduced because they will be supervised.
A decline in cognitive ability can also make seniors targets for financial fraud, and people may try to take advantage of them in cases of so-called “financial elder abuse”. Signs that your loved one is at risk include a lack of knowledge about their own monetary issues and isolation from friends and family.
What to say when broaching the topic
If you notice the above signs, start a conversation about assisted living. This is a sensitive topic and requires a gentle approach. Invite them to take charge by asking if they could use any help in their day-to-day lives. You can ask them what might make it easier—like having someone to help with laundry or cooking. Picking a few concrete points gets the ball rolling.
One concern they may express regarding assisted living is money. Come prepared with answers to assuage their fears. They could sell the family home and use this to fund the costs, for instance, or tap into a long-term care insurance plan if they have one. If they require nursing, Medicare or Medicaid may cover some of these medical costs so that they only have to pay for room and board. If they are a veteran, the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs has programs in place to help fund assisted living.
As your loved one comes to acknowledge that they could use help on occasion, you can open the conversation about assisted living. Let them maintain their sense of control, however, and don’t force things. You can provide them with information about their options and go through the possibilities together. In the end, the choice should be theirs.
Topics: Senior Living
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