Blog Feature

By: Marissa Salvesen on November 26th, 2013

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When is the “Right” Time to Move your Loved One into Assisted Living

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2013 08 22 22.39.24 resized 600It might be nearing the “right” time to move a parent into an assisted living community when health and safety needs are putting your loved one at risk in their home.

If this is your concern then it’s time to have a talk with your loved one. Often there are telltale signs of something “not right” in the home that you can address quickly before things spiral out of control.

An assisted living community provides maintenance-free living, social engagement, and assistance with your loved one’s daily routine. If tasks such as bathing, grooming, managing medications, or getting dressed are becoming a bit too difficult, a few hours of care each week may be exactly what mom or dad needs to retain their independence. Some assisted living communities can also provide special memory care services for Alzheimer’s and dementia needs, offering much needed peace of mind for the caregiver.

These five red flags may tell you it’s time to consider assisted living options:

Number 1: Incidents, Close Calls and Medical Emergencies

If your loved one has had a few incidents at home, such as a fall or injuries sustained from trying to prevent a fall, these are warning signs of a problem with mobility. Inactivity, stiffness in the joints, porous bones and complications of diabetes are common health conditions that can affect steady gait. Many falls can happen in the shower, when a loved one is trying to prevent themselves from slipping, or at night and in the morning hours when getting in and out of bed. Being alone during early morning or late evening hours can also increase fall risk.

Another sign that your loved one’s home is not properly accessible and is a risk factor, is difficulty navigating around corners or climbing stairs safely and effectively. Even still, if you notice a loved one has been taking medications improperly, this can be a real cause for concern and require immediate intervention.

Number 2: Noticeable Weight Loss, Strange Body Odor and Changes in Looks

These signs could represent several health issues or a problem managing activities of daily living. A loved one who is unable to prepare his or her own meals will often resort to eating whatever is easily available or little to nothing at all. These patterns can result in a lack of proper nutrition, considerable weight loss, and decreased strength for their daily routine. Medications taken on an empty stomach can also cause complications if meals are not eaten as scheduled.

A loved one who is unable to bathe and groom himself or herself will show neglect in physical appearance. You may notice your loved one wearing the same clothes for several days in a row or that they no longer brush their teeth or wash their hair. A quick hug can also reveal many changes in hygiene and frailty of strength.

Number 3: Signs of a Fire, Appliances Left Plugged In & Entrances Left Open

Safety and security issues are common reasons many caregivers choose to check out the options at an assisted living community. The thought of a fire, major accident or robbery resulting from mindlessly leaving the stove on or a door open is terrifying enough. Forgetfulness, while a common part of the aging process, may or may not be part of your loved one’s normal routine. Frequent forgetfulness could signal signs of dementia or Alzheimer’s disease and should be taken into consideration.

Number 4: Social Withdrawal, Depression and Complaints of Loneliness

The passing of a spouse can leave your loved one depressed, reclusive and lonely. When mom withdraws from her social connections, signs and symptoms of depression may be present. Depression and loneliness can cause loss of sleep, weight loss, mood swings and thoughts of suicide and is unfortunately one of the most common mental illnesses among the elderly. Assisted living communities not only provide a social support system to help engage your loved one but also a team of staff who can help recognize these systems on a regular basis and step in to help meet their needs.

Number 5: Unopened Bills, Broken Appliances, Grime and Clutter

When dad can no longer manage the responsibilities of the home, it’s clearly evident in his surroundings. If there are unopened bills and a few run-ins with the utility service, if there are signs of lax housekeeping and unsanitary surfaces, if the yard is overgrown with weeds and withering plants, these are signs of neglect in the home. While neurological issues could be at hand, an inability to handle the chores is a primary suspect.

These are big clues that your loved one’s safety and well-being need to be addressed. Speak with your loved one’s physician or an eldercare advisor and tour a few communities to learn more about the available options and how to find the best fit for your loved one. Rather than trying to control and structure the life of your loved one, senior living caregivers work together with families to make certain that their loved one is able to live as independently as possible, with respect, dignity, and choice. Find out how at www.umh.org.

Key Takeaways

• There are often telltale signs that a loved one is no longer able to safely live alone at home

• An assisted living community can offer several options to help address health and safety concerns

• Falls and medication errors, changes in personal care habits, tasks left undone or unfinished, loneliness and isolation, and household clutter can all be signs that your loved one can no longer live alone at home safely.

• Senior living caregivers work directly with families to make certain that their loved one is able to live as independently as possible.

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About Marissa Salvesen

I began working for United Methodist Homes in 2010, creating meaningful activities and life-enriching experiences for our seniors as an Activities Director at our Middlewoods of Newington Assisted Living Community. Since then, I have taken on multiple roles within the community and I currently work as the Marketing and Promotions Manager for UMH, fostering the mission, vision, and values of the organization. Our outstanding staff, residents, and families truly make our communities a wonderful place to live and work, which makes my job easy! I love sharing about the many ways we build caring relationships and enrich the lives of those we serve.