There’s no doubt about it. Having the conversation with a parent about considering assisted living can be downright scary. But when the benefits of safety, security, three nutritious meals a day, and support with personal hygiene outweigh the challenges of living home alone, it’s time to broach the subject.
Here are five signs that it might be time to consider assisted living.
- Difficulty Managing Activities of Daily Living
Activities of daily living are the skills needed to live independently — dressing, shopping, cooking, bathing (or other personal hygiene activities), doing laundry and managing medications. Although difficulties with some of these tasks can sometimes be remedied by having more in-home assistance, a move to an assisted living community may be the best solution. Not only do staff at assisted living communities help with these activities, but they also provide meals, housekeeping, transportation, and a wide range of amenities and activities for your loved one to participate in.
- Days Spent Without Leaving the House
It’s normal for seniors’ social circles to shrink with age. Whether their friends have died or moved away or your loved one can no longer drive, lack of companionship is associated with depression and heart problems in older adults. Does your mom still get together for lunches with church friends or participate in her book club? Has your dad cut back on meeting his friends at the local restaurant for coffee? There are many reasons elderly adults cut back on activities but dropping out of everything and showing interest in almost nothing is a red flag for depression. Assisted living communities offer seniors the opportunity to form active friendships and to partake in regular outings that keep them more mobile and active.
- Unopened Bills and Letters from Banks Pile Up
Sometimes you can find warning signs of cognitive decline in the mailbox. Next time you go to your parents’ house, keep your eyes peeled for unopened personal mail or bills; letters from banks, creditors or insurers; and thank-you messages from charities. Individually, these might not be issues. However, if you find a lot of mail scattered around and unopened bills, this can indicate that your loved one is having difficulty managing their finances.
- Drastic Changes in Appearance
A sudden change in appearance can indicate trouble. Perhaps your mom is having trouble getting to the grocery store or remembering how to cook her favorite recipes, so she’s experiencing noticeable weight loss. Or maybe your father is indulging in meals and snacks all day long or eating a diet of mostly packaged goods, so he’s gaining weight. Other signs include strange body odor or changes in personal hygiene habits, which could be a sign of memory trouble, depression or other physical ailments.
- Neglect Around the Home
If you find stale or expired foods in the kitchen and a freezer full of TV dinners, your loved one might benefit from an assisted living community where they can get three home-cooked meals a day. Signs of lax housekeeping also offer a glimpse into how your loved one is keeping up when you’re not around. If plants and animals don’t seem well-tended and the yard looks like it’s been neglected for a season or two, your loved one might need housekeeping help or a living situation where this is taken care of for them.
Have you started noticing some of the warning signs outlined in this article but still not sure if it’s time to approach your parent about assisted living? Take our Is It Time To Consider Assisted Living? quiz.