5 Signs Your Loved One Needs an Assisted Care Facility
Watching an elderly loved one age is a very stressful and emotionally difficult situation for families to endure. It is also frustrating for the once independent person who now has a difficult time taking care of their homes and themselves. Many conflicting emotions and thoughts arise when trying to figure out options for an assisted care facility. Additionally, when family members are overwhelmed with feelings of guilt and anxiety associated with considering an assisted care facility it is more challenging to think clearly and rationally. Denying that a loved one needs professional care can result in disastrous consequences such as in-home mishaps, injuries, fires, and more.
If you and your family are considering an assisted care facility for an older loved one, who can no longer safely live on their own, think about these red flags that can help with the decision.
1. Lack of home maintenance and responsibilities: Are there stacks of unsorted mail and unpaid bills? The mail and bills may be indicators of confusion or the beginning sign of memory loss. Has the lawn recently been mowed? Are the dishes washed and bathrooms often cleaned? Is spoiled food in the kitchen? Your loved one worked very hard for their home and they probably enjoy owning a home, but the upkeep may be more than they can handle. Talk to them about whether they would prefer to live in a place where they will not have to worry about the upkeep and maintenance.
2. Home Safety: Do you notice bruises, cuts, injuries? Are you constantly worrying about your senior family member? Do they wandered off and get lost? Forget what they were doing? Wandering increases the probability of falls and injuries. Does their home have fall hazards? Do you notice things like unsafe stairs without railings? Is there poor lighting? Are there tripping hazards like throw rugs and clutter on the floor? Have they had a change in vision or stated feeling dizzy?
It is time to evaluate all safety and fall hazards. If your loved one has had one fall, he/she is more likely to have another. A fall is debatably the most significant sign that your loved needs an assisted care facility.
3. Lack of personal care hygiene: Is your senior loved one wearing the same outfit for days at a time? Are their clothes dirty and need mending? Is it difficult for them to shower or get dressed without assistance? Have you noticed a decline in their appearance? Not bathing, dirty hair, unsanitary living conditions? Does your loved one look sick? Has he or she lost a significant amount of weight? Are they taking their prescribed medications? Do they suffer from a chronic health problem that is only getting worse?
These signs should not be dismissed. Caring for a loved one is exhausting; and cleaning and feeding this person is not enough. If your loved one is unable or forgets to do things like eat, shower, or change clothes it is time to have a conversation about an assisted care facility.
4. Mood Changes: Loneliness, Depression, and Sundowners syndrome. Does your loved one seem more irritable than usual? Has your loved one stopped participating in social events and recreational activities that once brought them enjoy? Does your loved one go days without leaving their house? Talk to them about why these changes are occurring. They may be uncomfortable driving or less confident participating in social events that used to bring them delight.Other behaviors such as sundowning and aggression, may be associated with confusion and dementia.
Even if your family member is capable of caring for themselves, they may just be ready for a change. It is possible your loved one may be having a difficult time and stuck in a rut. If they seem unhappy or depressed, ask whether a change in their living situation could improve their mood. One of the services that an assisted living facility can provide is caring staff that help people work through those challenging situations.
5. Inability to perform daily tasks independently: Does your loved one have trouble walking? Can your loved one cook for themselves? Can they do their laundry, bathe, and get dressed without assistance? Are everyday tasks such as driving, getting the mail, running errands, and using the stairs becoming more difficult? Living in an assisted care facility that handles things like cooking and cleaning can give your loved one time for socializing.
If your loved one lives independently or with you and they need more assistance, talk to your local Agency on Aging or your state’s Department of Aging to learn more. They can provide resources and help find an assisted care facility that fits your family and loved one’s needs. The most important thing to consider is what is best for the overall well-being and safety of a senior family member.