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5 Signs Assisted Living is the Right Option

Corey Kagan Whelan
Oct. 21, 2014

Make the move when it's a good time for your loved one and your family.

You may have started to notice your dad needs more help than you realized. Or you may have received an alarm-level wake-up call when your mom fell down the stairs or accidentally overdosed on her medication. One way or the other, it hits you: Your elderly parent may not need daily medical support, but still requires more assistance than is available at home.

In these instances, assisted living may be the answer. Here are five signs assisted living may make the most sense.

  1. Your Loved One Needs Daily Support
    According to Lisa Sneddon, founder and senior living advisor of Senior Living Experts, assisted living is designed for those who need help with one or more daily living activities, such as bathing, dressing, grooming, eating, taking medication, walking, etc.

    Some signs that daily living skill support is required may be if your senior is bathing less frequently or has trouble cleaning or doing laundry. Learn about the 6 signs of decline.

    "The level of care in each assisted living building can vary," says Sneddon, "so it is important to choose a place that can care for your needs now, but also in the future so that hopefully, you will not have to move again." For example, does the assisted living community help with incontinence or offer support for memory or dementia issues? Read more about choosing an assisted living facility.
  2. Your Loved One Is Missing Out on a Social Life
    If an aging parent starts to appear withdrawn or depressed, it may be due to increasing isolation. "
    "Some people have spent their whole lives as loners, but others may have always enjoyed social interaction," says Joanne Handy, president and CEO of LeadingAge California. "Those who have always craved company may miss the experience of having visitors and friends they connect with every day. For them, assisted living can provide much more contact with others than a sole caregiver in the home is able to do."

    Assisted living facilities typically provide a host of activities, such as card games, communal dining, live performances and devotional services, which can help a loved one enjoy life and the company of their peers. Read more about seniors and social life.
  3. You Have Safety Concerns
    Anyone can forget they left an egg on the stove to boil, but if you start to worry about your parents' ability to keep themselves safe at home, it must be addressed. Is your mom prone to falling or getting lost? Are you getting calls from the bank about odd account activity or noticing lots of unpaid bills lying around?

    "If you are, those are pretty clear signs that an elder requires more assistance getting through the day than what is currently available," says Handy. "This can be caused by either physical disabilities or mental disabilities, but either way, the result is the same," she adds.Your loved one may need 24/7 care, rather than an in-home aide for a few hours a day. Unless you're hiring a live-in caregiver, with additional coverage during the caregiver's off hours, your loved one may be safer in an environment that offers more interaction.
  4. In-Home Care Costs Can't Be Sustained
    While in-home care often makes sense for some adults and seniors, the limits of health insurance and long-term care insurance can make it challenging to pay for. "Financial concerns present a valid reason for making the change from home care to assisted living," says Handy. "If the care at home is becoming so expensive that the cost of assisted living makes more sense, then that is a good reason to consider this as an option," she adds.
  5. You're Experiencing Caregiver Fatigue
    If you've become the sole or main caregiver for a loved one, you can simply get burnt out and unable to continue. And that's OK! Maybe you've put your life on hold or are a part of the sandwich generation, juggling the demands of a young family along with the requirements of an aging parent. You want your family member to get the best care possible, and if you're exhausted it can be difficult to provide that care.

    "Assisted living not only helps seniors to thrive, but also benefits the family member who can now focus on being a daughter or son, instead of continuing in the role of caregiver," Sneddon explains.

If any of these reasons resonate with you and your family's situation, don't wait. It may make sense to learn about the options available and come up with a plan you are comfortable with, prior to it being urgently needed.

"Most families wait too long to make the decision to move to assisted living, possibly for reasons of guilt," says Sneddon. "If you wait for a crisis, like a fall or a stroke, some of the options that would have been available earlier may no longer be appropriate, however. Inevitably, when a family does make a move, they report that they should have done it at least two years ago."

Corey Whelan is a freelance journalist based in Brooklyn, N.Y.

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