As we get older, once simple tasks can become increasingly difficult. Even if that difficulty starts disrupting a person’s daily routine, determining when it’s time to move out of a current residence into an assisted living home is still one of the toughest decisions a family can make. If you’re unsure of whether or not it may be time to seek professional help, keep reading to find out which signs to look for before considering whether or not a loved one needs professional care.
Recent falls or accidents are an important indicator a person may no longer be safe living on their own. Have you or your loved one taken a fall, become ill, or experienced difficulties with the activities of daily living? As we get older, the possibility of any of these happenings obviously increases. This is why it is immensely important to fall-proof your home or the home of your loved one.
Another question to think about is whether or not a person is able to seek medical attention when they become sick, or do illnesses go untreated? If they are unable to seek medical treatment, sicknesses may develop into chronic. If this person has a chronic illness that is worsening over time, this could be a sign that this person is in need of more help and attention than they are currently receiving as they age at home.
If you or someone you love is having an increasingly difficult time conducting daily living activities or conducting instrumental activities of daily living, this is another sign you or that person is ready to begin assisted living. Also referred to as ADLs and IADLs, these activities are skills that are needed to live independently such as dressing, cooking, doing laundry, driving, reviewing medications, grocery shopping, etc.
Furthermore, weight loss that is noticeable on a person’s frame is an example of an up-close sign that it could be time to investigate assisted living. If someone if having trouble remembering to eat, or unable to go grocery shopping, this may lead to weight loss. This reasoning also goes for significant weight gain. Any change in weight is a tell-tale sign that something is going on.
With weight loss comes more problems. Does this person feel more fragile? Are they unable to keep their balance or do they have trouble getting up out of a chair. Sometimes giving your loved one a hug will give you a better picture for these close-up signs. Also, in regards to memory issues, do they appear unkempt or disheveled? Sometimes memory loss or difficulty managing time can cause a loved one to forget to shower.
Look around your loved one’s home. Are there signs of clutter or lack of housekeeping? As we get older, we may be unable to do chores around the home, but an overabundance of garbage, food-waste, or clutter in general, can be signs that household duties are being completely neglected. In certain instances we may be unable to throw things away due to a neurological or physical issue. Cluttered items around the home can cause a fall or injury. If you see spills that have not been wiped clean, this could be a sign of dementia, as the person lacks the ability to tidy up. If you see mold, dust, or cobwebs, these are also signs of the inability to keep the home livable.
If you need assistance in spotting the signs that it may be time for assisted living or in-home caregiving for your loved one, don’t be afraid to ask questions. If your loved one has friends that they interact with on a regular basis, get their input on your loved one’s behavior. Have they seen anything that may cause concern? If your loved one approves, talk to their primary care provider about their health and mental conditions.
Make sure that your concerns are clear about the safety of living on their own. As long as your loved one knows that a professional (not a stranger) will be checking in on them, they may be more comfortable with assisted living and in-home care. Also, for those that don’t think long term care is within their price range, there are state programs designed to offer financial assistance for those who need care but cannot afford it. It’s worth keeping in mind that the main priority is making sure the person in need of assisted living is going to be safe and healthy.
Max Gottlieb is the content manager of Senior Planning. Senior Planning is an eldercare planning agency, helping seniors and those with disabilities qualify for state and federal benefits. Senior Planning also helps seniors find in-home care, residential care homes, or assisted living and there is no charge for this service.