Knowing When Your Loved One Needs Assisted Living

It’s never easy to see a loved one’s health and well-being declining. Even though we all age and eventually need more help to complete ordinary tasks than we once did, it can still be extremely difficult to see a formerly independent person struggle with simple chores like cooking and laundry. 

But at what point do you step in? Do you help out with tasks around the house to delay a move to an assisted living facility? Or do you make a proactive choice for your loved one’s safety and remove the independence they have left?

Every situation is different. Ultimately, only you and your loved one can decide when it’s time to make the move to assisted living. Here are some factors to consider that can help inform your decision. 

Signs Your Loved One Needs Assisted Living

Most seniors would prefer to stay in their homes as long as possible. This is understandable—after all, it’s where they feel the most comfortable and have the most control over their lives. However, they may not speak up when they need assisted living, or they may not realize they need it. 

Start looking for signs that your loved one could use extra help at home. These can include: 

  • General neglect of household tasks—dishes or laundry left undone too long, lack of home maintenance 
  • Forgetting to take medication or needing reminders to do so 
  • Trouble with routine grooming tasks 
  • Forgetting to turn off the stove or lock the door 
  • Noticeable cognitive decline 
  • Falls or mobility issues 
  • Isolation or lack of interest in hobbies and other activities

Obviously, a pattern of behavior is much more significant than one incident. We all have our moments of forgetfulness or end up leaving the dishes in the sink too long. But if your loved one is exhibiting multiple signs of decline or struggling with daily tasks frequently, assisted living may be the best choice. Take a look at their insurance plan to see if any care is covered. 

Questions to Ask Yourself to Help You Decide

If you’re still not sure that now is the right time to consider assisted living, it can be helpful to ask yourself a few questions. This will help you be more objective in your decision. 

  • Is there a safety or health risk to them remaining alone? 
  • Do they need more social interaction than they’re getting now? 
  • Would assisted living reduce your loved one’s stress? 
  • Are they getting proper nutrition at home? 
  • Can they maintain their home at a basic level? 
  • Has caregiving severely affected your own quality of life? 

It’s very important to be honest with yourself. Consider your loved one’s quality of life in addition to their need for independence and your own caregiving duties. There are lots of different factors to consider before you decide whether now is the time. 

Tips for Choosing the Right Assisted Living Facility

Once you’ve decided that it’s time for assisted living, choosing the right facility is the next step. This task can be daunting as the quality of different facilities can vary quite dramatically. You will want to find a facility that is convenient for you to visit and will offer comfort and amenities for your loved one. 

The best way to get a feel for different options is to schedule some tours. While you won’t necessarily get a full picture of how it would feel to live at the facility from a tour, you can get an idea of the atmosphere of the place and the general attitude of staff members and residents. 

Keep your eyes and ears open during each tour and take notes. Ask questions about the level of care at the facility, get to know the staff members, and try the food if you can! If your loved one has specialized medical needs, ask about how they would handle those needs. 

Think about how you would feel if you were moving into the facility. Do the residents seem happy? Are there activities and other types of enrichment for your loved one? Don’t underestimate your gut feeling after visiting the facility—you will know which options are best. 

Choosing the right facility will help ease any guilt you may have about arranging for assisted living care. Remember, by helping your loved one find a new place to live, you are allowing them the opportunity for a healthier, safer life in their golden years.