How to Know When It’s Time For Assisted Living
Six signs that it's time for assisted living
- Can your parent take care of themselves? Look for the signs of personal care: Is your mom still bathing every day, brushing her teeth, doing her hair and makeup? Is your father still able to clean and tidy up his house and do his own laundry? Check to see whether your parent is preparing and eating healthy meals. Is your father able to make his own meals, or is he ordering takeout and heating up lots of microwaveable meals? (The garbage and recycling bins can reveal a lot he may not be willing to tell you directly; look for leftovers containers or frozen-food boxes that fill the trash every week.)
- Is your parent safe at home? If your parent is on multiple medications, check to see if they understand the directions — is your parent taking their medication as directed? If you notice unusual bruises, ask your parent if they’ve suffered a recent fall. Maybe your parent isn’t doing their laundry regularly because the washer and dryer are in the basement. Stairs can present a particular fall danger to older adults, especially if your parent lives alone.
- Is your parent safe when they’re driving? Some medications can cause drowsiness; does your parent have medications that say not to drive while on that medicine? If your parent is struggling with their eyesight, are they still driving without issue? Check their car for unexplained dents, scratches or dings, and ask your parent if they’ve had any accidents or tickets recently.
- Do you notice any memory issues in your parent? Lapses in memory are common as we age. But forgetting to take medications as they’re prescribed, or neglecting to pay monthly bills or take out the trash on the regular schedule each week can indicate a bigger problem. Some signs of memory problems may be your parent asking the same questions over and over, having trouble following directions or instructions, getting lost going somewhere familiar, or becoming confused about people, times and places.
- Is your parent able to move about their house? Watch how your mom walks — is it haltingly, using the walls for balance? Is she still able to navigate stairs or is she struggling to walk outside, or moving very slowly to get into and out of a car? Joint pain and muscle weakness can make it very difficult to move around; some medications may cause dizziness. Your mom has always loved being outside and caring for her landscaping; has she hired out all her lawn work and stopped tending to her garden?
- Is your parent still social? If your dad enjoys going to church, does he still go regularly, or has he stopped attending? Does your mom suddenly have no interest in joining her friends for their weekly lunches? It could be that your parent is struggling with depression or another health issue. It could also be that your parent no longer feels confident driving too far away from their home.
If you’ve seen some of these signs during a recent visit at your parent’s house, you know it’s time. Now how do you broach the subject with your parent? How do you convince them it’s time to go to an assisted living community?
- Educate yourself first. Do you know what assisted living communities are in your area, or near your parent’s home? Do you know what they offer and how much they cost? Will your parent also need a higher level of care, such as memory care or skilled nursing? If you do your due diligence now, you can begin the conversation confidently armed with information and knowledge.
- Start talking about assisted living casually as a possibility for “someday.” Neither you nor your parent wants to be forced to make a decision once your parent has had a health emergency and must make a move. So, don’t wait for the crisis: start talking to your parent now about the possibilities of assisted living, and the benefits of choosing an assisted living community now that they may move into later.
- But be prepared to be unsuccessful the first several times you bring it up. Patience is important. So is accepting failure, again and again, when you bring up the subject. But to avoid being persona non grata with your parent, don’t state the benefits of assisted living. Try suggesting instead: “What would it be like if you no longer had to do the housekeeping?” “How wonderful would it be to have all your meals made for you while you just relaxed?”
- Ask if they have any friends who have happily moved from their homes, or have unhappily remained in their homes — but be sure you know the answers first. This sounds a little manipulative, but it’s genuinely a good way to find out what your parent thinks or assumes about transitioning to assisted living. If you have friends whose parents have moved to assisted living, talk with them. Ask what community they chose, and what their parents like and don’t like about it.
- Make a “moving to assisted living” checklist. Everyone has pros and cons of making a big decision. This one’s no different. So sit with your parent and make a checklist. List all the reasons for and against a move. Then make another checklist of your parent’s assisted living requirements This is a checklist detailing what your parent must have in order to make a move such as: the assisted living community must be pet-friendly, it must have a beauty salon or a pool, it must offer on-site storage, or it must have a nutritionist as a member of its staff. There are senior living communities that offer all this and more, and you might be surprised at the range of activities, amenities and options available at assisted living communities
You’ve successfully had The Talk. Now how do you find The Community?
You’ve convinced your parent to move to assisted living. Congratulations! Now how do you find the best fit for them? Retirement Center Management can help with that.
We have 34 communities across Texas, Oklahoma, Arkansas and North Carolina, you may easily find options close to you or near a family member. And you may be delighted to discover how much better your parent’s life can be when they become a resident.