Many older people hope to stay in their homes as long as possible instead of entering assisted living facilities. Those unable to live by themselves often move in with loved ones who can help care for them. These solutions are often adequate for a while, but some aging seniors may find that their conditions progress to the point of needing more care than they — or their family members — can manage alone.
“Assisted living” tends to have a negative connotation, but that doesn’t have to be the case. These facilities are designed for individuals who may need more physical or medical attention as they age, but they are also spaces where residents can find healthy living and community. This guide will explore when to consider relocating to assisted living, plus give tips on how to approach the subject to your loved one.
What to Know About Assisted Living
First and foremost, it’s important to understand what assisted living facilities do. The term often brings to mind a lack of independence, but that’s not necessarily the case. These homes are “part of a continuum of long-term care services,” according to the American Health Care Association, and offer:
- Medical staff as needed
- Daily activities and community events
- Nutritious meals
- Private rooms residents can make their own
- Security and guidance
- Independence as well as person-focused care
- And more
The other thing to keep in mind about assisted living is that residents’ needs are accommodated as their mental or physical statuses change. A person in need of memory care assistance may eventually also require additional medical care or help getting around in a wheelchair, for example. The level of attention and care received adjusts with the resident’s needs.
6 Reasons to Consider a Move to Assisted Living
It’s no secret that our ability to function changes as we age. Some individuals remain in control of their faculties until the day they pass, but others may require aid as time goes on. Each person’s living situation is unique to them, however, and that can make it difficult to determine when to look into an assisted living facility. Here are some things you might notice that should prompt a discussion:
1. The individual Seems Unable to Handle Personal Tasks
Dementia, forgetfulness, and other mental hindrances may mean your loved one is unable to keep up with tasks like paying bills, hiring handypersons, running errands, keeping up with yard or housework, or other everyday tasks. If their ability to manage these responsibilities seems to be declining, it may fall to a caregiver to pick up the slack.
This can be difficult for those who are doing so on top of managing their own (and their families’) daily lives, especially if the loved one’s list of needs continues to grow.
2. Their Diet and/or Nutrition Begins to Suffer
Many older people cannot cook for themselves because the cookware becomes too heavy for them to handle, or they lack the dexterity to open packaging and containers. Others may forget to eat, or may lose their appetite for healthier options. Still others may only make what is prepackaged and convenient, resulting in low nutrient consumption.
Malnutrition and other negative consequences related to poor diet can have lasting impacts on an elderly person’s health.
3. They Cannot Complete Their Own Hygiene or Self-care Routines
Bathing, hygiene, and basic self-care are essential, but they can easily be overlooked if an older person is suffering from mental or physical decline.
Those with decreasing mental faculties may forget to undertake daily hygiene, for example, which can lead to infections or other harmful reactions. Those with declining physical abilities may also not be able to bathe themselves or perform basic self care.
4. The individual’s Medication Management Becomes a Problem
Older adults have spent decades in charge of their own lives, and that can make the transition to needing assistance tricky. No parent wants a child to check up on them, ask whether they took their medications, or count pills to ensure the process has gone off without a hitch. Some will adamantly express that they’ve taken medications they either forgot to take or are refusing to consume, which can have dire consequences.
5. Their Mobility Becomes Impaired, Leading to Accidents
A sure sign that it’s time to consider a move to assisted living is that a person’s mobility is so impaired by physical or mental decline or injury that they are unable to safely navigate the world on their own. This can lead to trips, slips, falls, and eventual injuries that could be prevented with the supervision of a qualified healthcare professional.
6. Your Loved One Seems at Risk of Danger
It can be difficult to know exactly how much help someone needs as they age, but it’s relatively easy to tell if they are a danger to themselves. Seniors with serious mobility issues, medical conditions that require around-the-clock care, memory impairments that may cause occasional outbursts, or those without family to care for them may do best in an assisted living facility where they can receive the safety, care, and community they need to thrive.
The most important thing to remember is that you are not abandoning your loved one by being interested in moving them to assisted living. On the contrary, you are likely doing what is best for them! If you have questions about assisted living or the process of moving to a facility, reach out to a senior living services professional for more information.
How to Discuss a Move to an Assisted Living Facility
Talking about assisted living with a loved one may be difficult, especially if they have generally been opposed to the idea. Here are a few tips for starting that discussion:
- Remind the person that you love them.
- Explain your concerns, especially if they are about mobility, medication, or health conditions you are unable to manage for them.
- Be aware of how you phrase your comments. Come from a place of love rather than being inconvenienced by your loved one’s needs.
- Consider having your loved one’s doctor start the discussion, particularly if you know your family member or friend would not be receptive to the idea coming from you.
- Have an actual conversation. Your loved one should not feel you’ve made the decision for them. Include them in the process from start to finish.
- Tour facilities together so your loved one can choose one that feels right for them.
- Help them with the transition period.
The process involved in downsizing from a standalone home to an assisted living facility can seem overwhelming, but having a team of professionals at your side makes it easier. Third Coast Move Managers has years of experience offering seniors in Southwest Michigan expert guidance as they navigate physically moving their belongings from one phase of life to another. We can aid in each step from sorting and packing to removing unwanted items and placing treasured mementos in storage.
Give us a call to see how we can assist with your loved one’s move to assisted living today.