When is it Time to Move an Aging Loved One into Assisted Living?

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Assisted living facilities are advanced care centers for older adults (and sometimes young adults with severe health problems). Assisted living in general can range from those needing assistance with activities of daily living (ADLs) to those needing around-the-clock medical care.

There are six main categories of ADLs, and some senior citizens may need assistance with of more more of these:

  1. Bathing
  2. Continence
  3. Dressing
  4. Eating
  5. Toileting
  6. Transferring (in and out of bed)

These are just a few signs to look out for when determining whether or not you should put your aging loved one in some type of assisted living facility.

1: Debilitating Health Condition

One of the biggest indicators of needing assisted living is a chronic, debilitating health condition. Over 70 million people over the age of 50 have some sort of chronic condition, whether it’s high blood pressure, diabetes, or COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease). While these illnesses are pretty easy to manage with a proper diet and regular physical activity, other chronic illnesses need more specialized treatment.

The most well-known chronic, debilitating illness that affects a lot of older people is Alzheimer’s disease, and many other forms of dementia. Alzheimer’s requires advancement treatment that family members may not be able to provide, and the majority of Alzheimer’s patients cannot safely remain in their own homes alone.

2: Problems Managing Finances

While Alzheimer’s is one of the most well-known forms of dementia, other forms of dementia can also make it hard for an elderly individual to remain in their own home safely. If your aging loved one is having trouble managing their finances— such as having a growing unpaid pile of bills— then it may be time to consider assisted living.

Paying bills is considered to be an instrumental activity of daily living (IADL), and while it may not be too much of a cause for concern, it can put your aging loved one at a higher risk of being a victim of a financial scam. However, assisted living may not be necessary. They may just need a home health aide or you can even move them into your or another family member’s home.

3: Messy Home

A messy home may not seem like a huge warning sign that something is wrong, especially if your aging loved one says that it’s hard to keep up with cleaning every day. Another IADL, cleaning the home is essential for keeping their home clutter-free (which can reduce the risk of them falling and seriously injuring themselves), and it also is a form of light, but effective, physical activity.

Again, a home health aide or frequent visits to your aging loved one’s home may be a solution if you’re still unsure about assisted living.

4: Poor Hygiene

Signs of poor hygiene include not bathing, unkempt hair, and dirty clothes. This can be a sign of dementia (forgetting to engage in personal hygiene), but it can also be a sign of fear of falling while trying to shower or bathe, since the majority of senior falls occur in the bathroom.

Either way, some sort of assistance may be necessary, whether it be a home health aide or assisted living. Hesitation for assisted living (specifically nursing homes) is normal, considering the fear of nursing home abuse since many residents of nursing homes all over the country have been victims.

5: Social and Emotional Well-being

Although many senior citizens are healthy and active enough to remain living in their own home, social isolation can have a negative impact on their mental health and ultimately, their physical health. This type of isolation can lead to depression, unhealthy habits (smoking, drinking, bad eating habits, abusing medication), and ultimately death.

While senior citizens with declining health are more likely to go into social isolation, this can also happen to healthy and active seniors. If your aging loved one is healthy and active, encourage them to socialize with friends, family members, and others in the community. However, if your aging loved one’s health is declining and/or there are no opportunities for social interaction, it may be a good idea to look into assisted living.

If you’re seeing one or more of these signs in your aging loved one, but are still skeptical about assisted living facilities, make sure to do your research. Unfortunately, many nursing homes are rated as below average by medicare, but taking the time to find the best ones can make a major difference in your loved one’s well-being.

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