Talking to your parents, especially if they are insistent on aging in place, about making a move into an assisted living facility is never an easy conversation to have. In addition to having to leave their own home, they are faced with the reality that they can no longer care for themselves. However, a move to an assisted living facility will provide them with access to health care, structure, meals, socialization and peace of mind for the family that they are being taken care of.
For many families, equipping their aging relatives with a home medical alert device is an ideal first step when they notice that Mom or Dad are having trouble remembering things, forgetting to turn off the stove, neglecting personal hygiene or any number of other daily tasks. The personal medical device is a way to make certain they would have immediate access to health care at the push of a button. There will likely come a time, though, when they simply need more help with daily tasks than the family can provide.
Here are some items that a caregiver should take note of if making a decision on whether aging loved ones should move into an assisted living facility:
- Is their personal hygiene changing? If they’re not bathing or brushing their teeth or changing their clothes that could either indicate a change in mental capacity or an illness or injury that is preventing them from taking care of themselves properly. If you find they need help with day to day care, this could be a warning sign that they either need in-home care or may need to move to an assisted living facility.
- Are they having difficulty moving around? Do they struggle to get in and out of bed or out of a chair? Do they have pets and are finding it difficult to navigate the stairs when they have to take the pet out of doors? If you worry your loved one may suffer a fall there are measures that can be taken to age-proof a home if that is an option you want to explore.
- Are the bills getting paid? Is the house being kept clean? Are your parents still able to cook dinners and clean up the kitchen afterward? Do you notice they’re not eating the food you’re purchasing for them?
- Are they still able to drive and get themselves to the grocery store or doctor’s appointments or even get out of the house for social activities? If you find your parents’ lives are shrinking because of lack of mobility or if you’re concerned that they should be driving at all, a move to an assisted living facility will eliminate the need for shopping and driving and will open them up to opportunities for socialization.
- Are they having health issues that are simply beyond the capabilities you or your family members can provide as the primary caregiver?
- Do you notice behavioral issues or unexplained behaviors that have you concerned? If your loved one can’t remember how to, or even whether they have, fixed a meal this could lead to a quick decline in their health.
- Are they taking their medications at the proper time in the proper doses? Over- or under-dosing can lead to serious health issues.
- Is their world shrinking? If you find they’re no longer leaving home to visit friends or involve themselves in activities they once enjoyed this could lead to depression. Isolation can have a negative impact on your loved one’s health and well-being.
You will likely find that having a conversation with your once-independent parents will not be an easy one, help them understand you’re concerned with their safety and health. Don’t make the move into an assisted living facility a unilateral one, take them with you and tour a few facilities so you can compare them and find one that will suit everyone’s needs.