This is the beginning of a tricky conversation that no one likes to have with their elderly loved one. But the truth is that nearly 1.2 million people in the U.S. reside in assisted living facilities, according to the National Caregivers Library. In fact, today’s 65-year-olds have almost a 70 percent chance of needing long-term care or support in their remaining years, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Read on to know when assisted living may be the right option and how to make the transition easier.
You should consider assisted living for your loved one if you notice the following:
- A recent fall or worsening health condition. An assisted living facility could help by providing on-site health services and medication administration.
- Difficulty with Activities of Daily Living (ADLs). If your loved one has trouble bathing, dressing, eating or using the toilet, they might benefit from the kind of daily support provided by an assisted living center.
- Weight loss or gain. This can be an indication of poor eating or cooking habits, which could be alleviated by living in an assisted living facility that features a central dining services.
- Shrinking social circle. Not wanting or being able to leave the house or keep up with friends and family is a major factor in declining emotional health. An assisted living facility with regular social and religious activities might be just the remedy your loved one needs.
- Lessening interest in hobbies. Organized recreational and educational activities provided by an assisted living facility may help rejuvenate your loved one’s interest in and enjoyment of hobbies.
- Mail piling up. Unpaid bills, strange magazine subscriptions and thank you letters from charities may indicate that your loved one’s financial well-being is at risk. Having trained geriatric staff checking in daily can help you keep your loved one out of these unwanted situations.
- Dangerous driving. Independence is treasured by everyone, but if you notice unexplained dings or dents on your loved one’s car, it might be time to move to assisted living where transportation is provided.
- Professional recommendation. If you still have suspicions but aren’t sure if your loved one should move to assisted living, ask a doctor or nurse with geriatric training to perform an evaluation. Search for resources near you by visiting the National Association of Area Agencies on Aging.
Making the Transition
Transitioning to care outside the home can be difficult, but it isn’t impossible. Here are a few recommendations to help you ease the pain:
- Find the right facility. You should consider distance, quality of service provided and the ratio of staff to residents when looking for assisted living communities. Check out Seniors Guide Online’s list of resources by your location at https://www.seniorsguideonline.com/assisted-living.
- Research the facility. Before making any commitments, AARP.org recommends taking a checklist with you to tour the facility. They should be able to answer specific questions like “Do rooms and bathrooms have handrails and call buttons?” Their answers will help you gauge your loved one’s potential safety and happiness at that facility.
- Plug into wearable technology. Fitness trackers for seniors like the Lively Wearable from GreatCall can keep your loved one motivated to stay physically fit. The device is comfortable and can also keep their mind sharp by encouraging them to complete daily challenges. The senior fitness tracker can connect to your loved one’s phone to help during an emergency situation. You can even connect to the Lively Wearable app so you can see if the urgent response button has been pressed and if your loved one is staying active.
- Visit often. Adapting to a completely new environment can be quite jarring to your loved one, so it’s important to keep visiting regularly to show you care. If you visit regularly, you can better check up on their health, create new positive memories and keep your loved one socially connected.
While it may be difficult to start the conversation, you need to do what’s best for your elderly loved ones. Monitor their health as they age and be upfront with these tough decisions. And, of course, emphasize how much you love and care for them and want to help them live a happy life.