Do you feel that your mother or father needs more help than you can provide? As an adult child, do you see what you want to see in relation to your parents' abilities and not wanting to let go of how it used to be? Do you feel you are aware of any decline or changes? It is sometimes difficult to accept change; that your mother or father is more physically or emotionally limited or is unable to appropriately care for themselves. There are so many red flags that your family member may be at risk, needing more help and it may be time to move to an assisted living facility. While some changes are obvious, others may subtle and not be noticed.
SIGNS IT IS TIME FOR YOUR LOVED ONE TO MOVE TO AN ASSISTED LIVING FACILITY.
1. SOME OF THE MORE OBVIOUS WARNINGS
a. Chronic health conditions which are progressive (COPD, dementia, congestive heart failure) may occur gradually or within a short period of time.
b. Increased difficulties with ADLs (Activities of Daily Living) such as dressing, cooking, bathing, doing laundry, may indicate increased difficulty to live independently.
c. Your loved one may be showing a slow recovery from recent illnesses. i.e. flu, bad cold. Did it develop into pneumonia, bronchitis? Maybe mom or dad delayed seeing their physician or didn’t take their medications.
2. CHANGES IN SOCIALIZATION
a. Are they cutting back on activities? Are they making excuses and telling friends they are too busy to meet them for lunch? Often loved pastimes are given up. Your mother no longer knits; your father stops playing cards with friends.
b. Days are often spent in isolation, not leaving the house because they can no longer drive or there is a lack of public transportation. Self isolation can lead to depression. There is also the risk that a person with dementia may get lost if they go out on their own.
3. CHANGES AROUND THE HOUSE
a. Is there is more clutter? Is this because of physical deficits or a change in mental status? This change in behavior may be of greater concern if your parent was extremely neat and orderly.
b. Taking care of housekeeping may have taken a dramatic change. Physical limitations may indicate difficulty in accomplishing tasks. It may be impossible to run the vacuum cleaner. Due to decreased vision a spill may not be seen creating a slip and fall hazard. Dementia may also indicate a lack of awareness and the need to clean a spill.
4. PHYSICAL CHANGES WITH NEGATIVE IMPACT
a. You parent seems increasingly frail. Have you noticed problems with balance? Does your loved one have difficulty getting up from a chair? The risk of falling is greatly increased.
b. Noticeable weight loss or weight gain. You might notice that clothes are getting loose and mom is having more difficulty cooking. Or constant snacking contributes to a weight gain.
c. Hygiene and appearance problems. Lack of proper hygiene may be impacted by depression or dementia. Or simply by ambivalence. Does your mother take pride in her appearance? Putting on makeup, combing her hair. Is your father shaving?
5. MONEY PROBLEMS, A BIG RED FLAG
a. Unopened bills and personal mail are piling up. Are there unopened letters and birthday cards? Because of unopened bills are there past due notices and warnings?
b. The older adult often feels that they must contribute to charity requests. Look for thank-you messages from charities indicating excessive contributions. Seniors are vulnerable to scams.
c. Piles of mail and magazines indicate the inability to manage finances and may also become a potential physical hazard.
As a family you are having difficulty providing the necessary care for your loved one. You’ve tried to help maintain your parent’s home. Mowing the lawn. Shopping for groceries. Driving your loved one to doctor’s appointments. Helping to pay the bills. You are constantly worried about safety issues and realize that your parent is using poor judgment in their decision making. These are all good reasons to consider the necessity of moving to an assisted living facility.
As a psychotherapist working with the older adult and their family I understand the difficulty in making a life changing decision. I am there to support and guide both you and your loved one.