As you grow older, you may find yourself assume the role as the family caregiver. Initially, this role may involve small tasks like giving rides to and from appointments but has the potential to evolve into more as your loved one’s needs change. At the end of the day, most families just want to ensure that their older loved one is happy and healthy and safe. However, as that loved one’s circumstances change, caregivers may ask themselves: is this the best option?
Sometimes a senior will do well living independently when the family hires an in-home caregiver to assist with personal care and other chores. However, a change in health or circumstance may require additional support. In these situations, a change may be necessary. For many a transition to an assisted living community can be an invaluable option that helps improve the quality of life or both you and your loved one.
Who Should Suggest Senior Living?
This generation of seniors has earned a reputation for being doggedly independent. While families like to believe their senior loved one will tell them when they need help, many older adults are reluctant to admit they are need addition support. They’re likely to say everything is “fine” even when it might not be.
You may feel that it is better to wait for your aging loved one to ask for help before you, but it is also a good idea to plan early and broach the subject with your loved one before a serious health or safety crisis occurs that causes you to move quickly. It is a good idea to have a sense of the options available to you and your loved so that when the time comes, you can pursue the option that is best for your situation.
Knowing when and how to initiate that type of conversation can also be challenging but there are several signs to look for in your loved one that a change is probably needed.
Signs A Senior Needs Assisted Living
Rarely does a senior’s decline in health and their ability to maintain a home happen overnight. There are almost always signs that indicate they are struggling, even if the signals are less than obvious:
- A normally tidy senior’s personal hygiene is being neglected as evidenced by disheveled clothing, dirty or messy hair, or body odor.
- The senior seems unsteady walking or when rising from a seated position. They might even be sitting more in an effort to avoid falling.
- Unexplained bruises or scratches can sometimes be warning signs of problems with mobility.
- Without intention, the senior is gaining or losing weight, often because of a poor diet or difficulty preparing meals.
- Stacks of unopened mail or past due notices are visible around the house. Trouble keeping up with finances is another sign of a struggle.
- Mistakes with medication or failing to refill prescriptions on time is another area of concern. Check the number of pills remaining in prescription bottles and compare it to the date to see if they are on track.
A careful examination of the condition of an older loved one’s home might reveal further evidence that change is needed:
- Are chores piling up between visits, such as stacks of dirty dishes, dusty furniture, piles of laundry, or overflowing trash?
- Does the house have an odor that would suggest it needs cleaning?
- Are small maintenance issues being ignored, such as light bulbs not being replaced or appliances not working?
- Is the refrigerator filled with outdated foods and beverages?
Be Objective About the Need for Change
If you found yourself answering yes to more than one or two of the signs above, it’s probably time to talk about senior living with your aging loved one.
Remember, that as you process these changes, you are not alone. There are countless supports in place to help you and your loved one navigate your situation. One of those resources is post on Having the Important Conversations which offers useful tips for making these discussions go more smoothly and our Sunrise Blog entry on Working with Siblings to Care for an Aging Parent.