11 Signs Parents Need Assisted Living
Many older adults are resistant to the idea of being moved into an assisted living facility, and they may also not even be aware of their declining condition. As their child, you need to keep an eye on your elderly parents and look out for signs that they might need assisted living. Assisted living isn’t the right choice for everyone, but it truly can be one of the best gifts for dementia patients and other older adults requiring a high degree of care. Here are 11 signs that it might be time to move your parents into a nursing home or, in the very least, hire a home health aide:
1. Increased Need for Medical Care
As many people age, their medical needs increase, and your parents might be at the point where they need professional care on a daily basis. In some cases, this may be just temporary (such as recovery after surgery), but if their medical needs are more permanent and they can no longer care for themselves, they might need to be moved into assisted living.
2. Issues with Taking Medication
Skipping medication doses or accidentally doubling up can pose a huge risk and, unfortunately, some older adults find it tough to stick to their medication schedule due to dementia. If your loved one isn’t able to take their medications in the proper dosages at the right time — even with the help of pill organizers and other gifts for hospital patients — then they need some kind of help, whether that is a home health aide or a move into assisted living.
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3. Lack of Home Maintenance
Keeping up a home and yard is hard work, and many older people don’t have the energy or the mobility to do so. You might notice that the house looks messy or dirty, with lots of clutter and dust, as well as a general lack of cleanliness. If your parents have a yard, it might also look unkempt, with uncut grass, weeds, dead tree branches and other signs of neglect. Assisted living facilities have janitorial teams that handle the maintenance so residents don’t have to worry about it.
4. Trouble with Personal Grooming and Dressing
On a similar note, lots of older adults also struggle with personal care tasks due to dementia or impaired mobility. They may forget or be unable to shower or bathe, brush their teeth, comb their hair, get dressed and do other activities to take care of themselves. Look for hair that is tangled or uncut, bad breath, body odor and other signs that point to trouble with hygiene.
5. Overdue Bills and Skipped Payments
Dementia often causes older adults to forget to pay essential bills such as the phone and electricity. Inspect their house for overdue bill notices and other signs that they are skipping payments. In extreme cases, their service might even get shut off before they realize what is wrong. If they move into an assisted living facility, then they won’t have to worry about paying multiple bills every single month.
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6. Increased Isolation and Withdrawal
Many seniors feel depressed and anxious as they age, which causes them to withdraw from social relationships. In addition to social withdrawal, many seniors exhibit a loss of interest in hobbies and activities they previously enjoyed. They may also have difficulty driving themselves due to impaired vision or mobility, which makes it even harder to maintain social connections and hobbies. Living in an assisted living facility will give them the opportunity to socialize without transportation.
7. Missing Appointments and Events
Difficulty driving or navigating public transportation can lead your loved one to miss events, whether that is an important doctor’s appointment or a family gathering to exchange gifts for the elderly. If they still drive themselves, you might also notice more damage on their car due to scraping the doors on objects or running over things.
8. Mood Swings and Outbursts
Unfortunately, you might also notice significant mood changes and even angry outbursts in your elderly parents, even if they were previously very mild-mannered. These outbursts can have many causes, including dementia and disorientation, physical pain, frustration over their aging bodies and more. If their mood swings are really severe, they might need to be placed in a memory care facility that is skilled with dealing with these issues.
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9. Noticeable Weight Loss or Gain
Cooking is another intensive task that many seniors struggle with, leading some of them to either eat unhealthy prepared foods or skip meals altogether. These dietary changes will often cause either weight loss or gain, which can sometimes be quite rapid. You might also notice a change in the contents of their pantry and fridge, as well as an increase in expired food. If you move them into an assisted living facility, the staff will take care of preparing meals for them and make sure that all dietary restrictions are being followed.
10. Bruises and Injuries
Tripping is a great risk to older adults. Even if they don’t have a “real” fall, they may still bump into objects like furniture. As a side effect of this decreased mobility and increased clumsiness, they will usually have a lot of bruises, sprains, fractures and other injuries, and they might not always be able to recall how they got them.
11. Increasing Dementia Symptoms
We’ve already covered some symptoms of dementia on this list, such as forgetting to take medications or pay bills. However, there are several additional symptoms that you should watch out for, including becoming disoriented, wandering outside the house and getting lost, repeating stories or questions, forgetting words while speaking and difficulty planning or organizing events or things. If your parents’ dementia is pretty advanced, they might even need a dedicated memory care facility instead of generalized assisted living.
Have you already decided to move your parents into an assisted living facility and, if so, what was the tipping point? What other signs do you look for in your elderly parents? Let us know in the comments below!