The prospect of moving out of a comfortable and familiar environment typically isn’t appealing to anyone, no matter their age. But, for aging adults, and the adults taking care of them, it’s often a prospect that must be considered. Before even considering a move, aging adults and their family member will want to make sure it’s necessary. Here are some signs that may indicate it’s time to start considering an assisted living facility.
Is your parent or loved one falling a lot lately? Even if it’s just small stumbles over the edge of a carpet or a bump against the corner of a coffee table, frequent tumbles can be a sign of a bigger problem. Or, they could be the eventual cause of a larger problem.
According to the CDC, “Each year, millions of older people—those 65 and older—fall. In fact, more than one out of four older people's falls each year, but less than half tell their doctor. Falling once doubles your chances of falling again.”
Even if your parent doesn't tell you they’ve been falling or stumbling, you can keep your eyes open for signs such as unexplained bruises or limp. It’s also important to consider what would happen if they were to fall. How often do they have people over? If they were unable to get up or get to a phone, how long would it take to discover them? Both the falling and the repercussions of the falling are things to consider.
Observe their behavior when you’re around. Are there small things they seem to be often forgetting, like names or what day it is or the last time they went to the grocery store? While these little things may seem inconsequential, you should consider what else they may forget when you’re not there. Maybe they’ve forgotten to turn the oven off or to lock their doors at night? It’s possible they could forget to put the car in park before getting out or even forget to take their medications. If the small things start adding up, it may be time to consider help, before the big things cause larger issues.
Minimal Social Life
Even if their social life isn’t what it used to be, how often do they leave the house or have people over? They may not be going to the movies once a week or out every weekend, but do they at least have activities they care about or people they look forward to seeing? Being cooped up at home or not leaving the house may be a sign of depression or might indicate they can no longer travel on their own. Either way, social activities are essential to a healthy lifestyle, and if they can’t attend them on their own, it may be time to move to a facility that can help.
Changes in Appearance
Next time you visit your loved one, take a long look at them. What do you notice? When you give them a hug, do they feel thinner? Weight loss could be a sign they aren’t cooking enough or getting the proper nutrition. Alternatively, weight gain could be a sign of turning to easy but unhealthy food options, or that a condition like diabetes is not being treated.
Besides their physical appearance, how do their clothes look? Are the clothes clean and well-kept? Does your love one appear well-groomed and clean? Or, are they still in their night clothes in the afternoon or wearing clothes that seem dirty?
These are all signs that your loved one may not be able to complete everyday tasks such as laundry or showering.
Poor Food Supply
Check the fridge and cupboards of your loved one, what do you find? Are the shelves bare? Or, is the fridge full but with expired or stale items? Are there multiples of one item but not enough of another? If the weather turned bad and they couldn’t get to the store, would there be enough food to last a few days?
A Grimy House
If your loved one can’t keep up with everyday house cleaning, it can create an unsanitary situation, and you’ll start to see signs even if they are good at hiding it. There may be visible signs such as cobwebs and mold in corners, but make sure you check the areas they think you won’t see like their bedroom and bathroom. These are areas they may neglect if they don’t have the energy to clean the whole house.
Frequent Medical Care
If your loved one is heading to the ER or hospital for one reason or another, chronic illness, frequent falls, respiratory problems or more, they may need more advanced medical care than they can get at home. Ambulance rides can be costly and so can a long stay at a hospital. Making the switch to an assisted living center, while it may be more up front, can provide your loved one access to the care they need without frequent, emergency trips.
One or two of these signs on their own may not indicate it’s time to move your family member out of their home. Maybe they just need some extra house cleaning help or a meal service to relieve the stress of cooking every day. If they want to continue living independently, and they aren’t in immediate danger, some services can help them do that.
But, a combination of these signs can result in a low quality of life and may mean it’s time to start thinking about a move.