Whether making a personal decision or for a family member, trying to figure out when it is time for assisted living can be difficult. Even if it is obvious that this change should occur, the decision is often met with some hesitation.
When is it Time for Assisted Living
The stigma around assisted living, mixed with the fear of separation from loved ones, makes the reality of a nursing home or residential facility a little intimidating and scary. However, as most individuals cannot support themselves once they reach a certain age, assisted living or personalized care are almost inevitable for some individuals. The biggest fear seems to be placing a loved one into care too early. Before making this big decision, consider these following reasons a person may need to be placed into assisted living.
Help is Needed with Everyday Tasks
As someone ages, small activities can become more difficult, especially when a new disability or disease is beginning to take effect. Meal preparation, showering, or dressing oneself becoming difficult is an indicator of the need for assisted living. Although coming to terms with not being able to take care of one’s physical needs is emotionally distressing, it is important that family members realize these indicators are taking place and start the discussion early.
Easing into the reality is always better. If a family member is having difficulty keeping up with daily responsibilities, such as getting the mail or turning off the TV, assisted living might be a good option. In this community, individuals are left to be independent while staff ensures that they are always safe, healthy, and happy.
Memory is Fading
Forgetfulness is a common side effect of aging; however, once it begins to affect health, it might be time for a conversation about assisted living. Forgetting to take medication or accidentally taking medication twice, forgetting to eat, or forgetting to uphold personal hygiene is a good indicator that one might need assistance.
Although a fading memory is a common phenomenon with aging, if it becomes more prevalent and noticeable, a visit to the doctor might be needed. Professionals are usually able to indicate when a person can no longer take care of themselves and may even be able to recommend some options.
Need of Companionship
If a spouse or other close family member has passed, it can be hard to live independently without the occurrence of depression, loneliness, or anxiety. If an elderly family member experiences this type of loss, assisted living is a great option to assist and watch over them while also providing a companion to help prevent loneliness. There are plenty of benefits to having a recently widowed individual surrounded by staff and other residents that care, love, and support one another.
Many assisted living residences have support groups and clubs that can help each other through difficult times. Not only will the fear of this person living alone diminish, they will be supported and cared for during this difficult time so they can focus on healing.
Handling daily tasks might not be too difficult for a loved one, but handling medical appointments, medications, transportation, and diet can be quite difficult for an aging family member. If a new diagnosis impairs the ability to take on the new responsibilities of the illness, consider assisted living as a way to simply help balance the health and day-to-day tasks that can become too much for an aging, sick individual.
Assisted living lets the individuals remain as independent as they wish while still being able to depend on others to handle the tasks they cannot take on, such as driving to an appointment or measuring and remembering to take medications. Many assisted living facilities have doctors or medical staff on-site, so they are a safe place to handle any illnesses, while also giving individuals the freedom and independence they deserve.
Keeping Oneself Safe
If a loved one is prone to falling, can no longer utilize stairs, or has become forgetful of shutting off certain potentially dangerous appliances, assistance might be required. Although the individual is able to take care of themselves in a small living vicinity, the reaching, climbing, walking, and remembering to reset all the appliances can become too much of an ordeal for an aging body. It can lead to frustrations, making the individual quit and not take care of themselves rather than ask for help.
Many older adults would rather fail on their own than get assistance, so this can be a difficult conversation to have. However, the benefits that come from having peace of mind about a loved one greatly outweigh the daunting reality of change. Assisted living is a way to preserve the independence of a person while also giving them the security to live a happy, safe life.
Eminent Health/Safety Risks
If a loved one would not have the appropriate reaction or ability to produce the appropriate reaction during a safety or health emergency, family members and friends may need to have a conversation about ways to protect the loved one. One of the best ways to do this is to have a caregiver onsite with the family member. Although this might be an uncomfortable situation and conversation to have, the family member needs to understand that the eminent threats surrounding living by themselves are far too great.
Another major issue with growing older is the reality of wandering, or straying too far from home and getting lost. Most prominent with dementia patients, this is one of the biggest risk factors of the elderly living alone without someone there to look after and support them. Even if some may be hesitant to having a “sitter” with them through most of the day, assisted living and in-home care are a great idea for those looking to maintain an independent lifestyle with access to assistance when needed.
Unhealthy Living Environment
Sometimes when aging occurs, the first things that tend to get neglected are personal and environmental cleanliness. This looks different for everyone, but it can include leaving food or dirt unattended, not flushing the toilet or draining the bathtub, not bathing at all or brushing teeth, or simply not changing clothing or undergarments regularly. Most of this will become noticeable eventually, and if left unattended for too long, can lead to bacteria growth and infections. Instead of simply hiring a maid or even taking on the jobs personally, ask: what will be neglected next?
Once an individual becomes frail or too tired to handle tasks, things will begin to get neglected more often. Assisted living is a great option for those who want to be independent but cannot handle all responsibilities that living alone entails. The facilities are cleaned regularly and staff is always available to help the individual take care of him or herself, while alleviating the stress of some harder-to-accomplish tasks, such as doing laundry or mopping the floor. Assisted living residences are a great compromise between the adult that wants to be independent and the family member that wants to keep them healthy and safe.
Family Members Cannot Keep Up
As cost-efficient as the option is, requiring family members or close friends to help out an elderly individual can put a lot of stress on an untrained helper. It can lead to resentment within friendships or families, extreme fatigue, or the elderly person not getting the best care possible due to the other’s inability to handle certain situations properly. It is important to recognize when outside help is needed and take the steps necessary to assist the family member.
Although having the family member in the home is something familiar and expected, they often can take on too much of a burden and lose quality in their lives while constantly trying to support the other who needs help. Assisted living staff and faculty are trained and prepared for helping elderly individuals as best they can, while also realizing limitations and boundaries that are too often overlooked by close family. There are always more nurses and faculty that can assist.
So when is it time to consider assisted living?
There are always difficult discussions to have with aging parents, grandparents, or other family members. Discussing the future can be a scary reality for some people, especially when it includes many changes from their normal way of life. Reassurance and acceptance that everything is changing, but in a way that is for the better, is the first step to ensuring a family member that getting help is sometimes needed and that getting help in no way makes anyone less of person. If anything, having a helpful, kind companion around on a regular basis can give someone a new outlook on life and can provide a new friend and confidante. Deciding on a change of scenery is something that can be intimidating at first, but knowing the signs early on can help loved ones recognize and realize that these changes are necessary and for the better. Contact Cobbdale Assisted Living for more information.