Though some older adults may not like to admit it, as we get older, certain activities and tasks become more difficult, time-consuming, or neglected all together. As a caregiver for a loved one, you may be stretched too thin or do not have the time or resources to devote to your aging loved one. Sometimes it is best to make the decision to move your loved one from their home to an assisted living facility. For many families, this is a difficult decision to make. Regardless of the difficulty, however, it may be in their best interest. If you feel that your loved one may need to live in an assisted living center, look out for these signs.
There are a few important indicators to look out for if you have the feeling that your loved one may be in need of assisted living. Has your loved one has experienced a recent fall or accident? Have their chronic conditions worsened, have they become neglectful of their personal health, or experienced a car crash? The possibility of these occurrences increases dramatically as we age. If your loved one were to hypothetically suffer an illness or injury, are they able to seek out medical assistance as soon as possible? When illnesses or injuries are left untreated the problems intensify and may become chronic, which of course are much harder to treat and control. If your loved one has a chronic illness that is getting worse over time, they may be in need of assisted living facility or a skilled nursing facility so that they can receive the care and medical attention they need.
Is your loved one experiencing increasing difficulty in their ability to conduct daily activities such as grocery shopping, cleaning clutter around the home, or personal hygiene? These daily activities are often referred to as ADLs (activities of daily living) or IADLs (instrumental activities of daily living). ADLS and IADLs measure a person’s ability to independently conduct tasks such as dressing, laundry, driving, cooking, and cleaning. Once a person loses their ability to perform ADLs they can no longer remain healthily independent.
You may need to have an eye for detail when observing more hidden signs of a loved one being unable to care for themselves. If you observe any significant weight loss or gain, this is a basic indicator of an unbalanced diet. As it becomes harder to get to the grocery store some elderly people begin skipping meals. The more meals they skip, the more malnourished they will become. It is a vicious cycle that can easily be stopped but these signs need to be watched out for and caught. Even though skipping one meal may not matter, skipping many meals can lead to a snowball effect that in turn can permanently damage the patient’s health. The same reasoning goes for weight gain. Perhaps the person does not have access to nutritious foods or meals.
Along with weight gain or weight loss, keep an eye on your loved one and notice if they seem more frail or fragile. As we naturally become frailer, we experience more difficulty keeping our balance, holding heavy objects, and transferring from one position to another. Specific signs also include an inability to travel up or down stairs, difficulty getting up from a chair, or the inability to get in or out of a car. Chronic illnesses can cause someone to become frail enough to prevent them from properly conducting daily activities. Frailty that gets in the way of ADLs is a crucial physical sign that your loved one may not be able to remain independent any longer.
Beginning the search for assisted living can be daunting and you may need some help to decide whether or not your loved one really needs assisted living. Don’t be afraid to do some research or ask questions; ask your loved one’s primary care provider if they’ve noticed any important signs we mentioned above. If it truly is time for assisted living, you can consult a social worker on what you should do and see what they suggest for your relative. When broaching the topic with your loved one, emphasize your concern for your loved one’s safety and explain that living alone may no longer be the safest option. Assisted living can grant you and your loved one peace of mind, knowing that a professional is providing care.
Max Gottlieb is the content editor for Senior Planning and Prime Medical in Phoenix, Arizona. Senior Planning provides free assistance to seniors, helping them apply for benefits and find a living situation that best fits their needs.