How do You Know When it is Time for Assisted Living for Your Parent?
By Mark Gladden

Caring for aging parents can be a difficult and emotional time. It’s often hard to watch your parents slowly lose their independence in their elder years. Many Americans struggle with knowing when it's an appropriate time to encourage their mom and dad to start considering assisted living.

Read on for advice about how to know when the time is right to transition toward assisted living, how to start the conversation, and the best first steps for getting help so your parents stay safe and cared for in their later years.

Signs Your Parents Need Assisted Living Care

For many of us, our parents have been beacons of strength, wisdom, and stability throughout our lives. So, the idea that they could be slowing down and need support in their later years can be an emotional—and even scary—time for both them and you. Handling the situation objectively is difficult because we don't want to think that they could be heading toward the need for support with daily activities. That being said, the transition to assisted care is often an essential step for many older adults. Here are some of the significant signs to look for.

Missing Medication

One of the most powerful indicators that someone should consider assisted living is missing medication doses, taking medication incorrectly, or otherwise struggling to manage medicine. As we age, properly managing our medication becomes increasingly essential.

Many prescription medications have highly specific instructions for administration and timing. If you notice your parent are becoming increasingly confused about their medications or aren't administering their medicines with the specificity and attention required, this might be a sign that they need further support.

Safety Issues

Ambulatory issues are one of the biggest concerns for older adults living alone. While it's possible to safety-proof a house and add assistive technologies to a home environment to make it more accessible for your parents, there's only so much you can realistically do, especially if your parents live alone.

Safety concerns can also extend to navigating the community and driving issues. Watch for signs that your mom or dad is struggling to safely get around, shop for themselves, or manage their banking and finances. Unfortunately, technology moves incredibly fast, and older adults are often easy targets for scams in the community and online.

Inadequate Nutrition or Not Eating Enough/Too Much

As people age, their ability to create healthy, nutritious meals can decrease, whether through limited energy, memory issues, or other causes. Balanced, nutritious meals are a big part of aging well and staying healthy, especially for older people. Watch for signs that your parent is gaining or losing weight, which might indicate their dietary needs are not being adequately met.

Increasingly Poor Memory

A big part of being independent is keeping track of important information and remembering to do all the activities necessary for healthy functioning. If your parent is increasingly unable to recall things like appointment times, names of loved ones, or how to do things they never previously struggled with, these might be major indicators that they need assistance.

How To Start the Conversation About Assisted Living

It's imperative that your parents know that you want the best for them and that you are worried about their health and safety. Older adults who are concerned about relinquishing their current lifestyle need to know that you are only bringing this up out of love and care. Here are some tips to begin having this difficult but necessary conversation.

Address Their Concerns

When discussing alternative housing options, it's crucial to talk about the differences between the reputation of assisted-living facilities and the reality of the assisted-living offerings available. The media often portrays elderly care inaccurately— depicting elder homes as large, sterile institutions full of miserably unhappy people. And while these huge corporate assisted living communities do exist, there are other, better alternatives.

Residential Care Facilities for the Elderly (RCFE for short) are small, independent, family-run assisted living homes staffed by trained, compassionate caregivers. The employees help with medications, cook delicious meals, facilitate recreational and community activities, and assist with activities of daily living, all while keeping safety and health at the forefront.

The best thing you can do is encourage your parents to tour one of these facilities before making their minds up. Seeing the facilities in action and meeting the staff can help them warm up to the transition.

Let Them Know They'll Still Have Independence

Another common misconception that many people have about assisted-living communities is the idea that they'll have to relinquish their autonomy and independence completely. This is not at all the case. Many older people enjoy the amenities and security of assisted living while maintaining an active social life.

Assisted living communities often facilitate trips to medical appointments, community activities, and religious services. Some people find they can attend even more activities thanks to the help provided by the caregivers! Families are also able and encouraged to visit often.

Discuss the Benefits of Assisted Living

Often, aging parents can get defensive if you try to bring up a list of things you observe them doing "wrong." It can make them feel embarrassed if you jump straight to pointing out the concerns directly. Instead, it's better to plant the seeds of possibilities with assisted living by discussing how the caregivers can meet many of their needs, freeing up their time to participate in social, recreational, creative, and spiritual activities.

Reach Out Today for Support with Aging Parents

Transitioning to assisted living can be a difficult conversation to broach with your parents. Before starting the conversation, knowing the signs that they may benefit from an assisted living facility is essential. If you live in the San Diego area and would like support or to speak to one of our compassionate coordinators about your aging parents, contact Present Moments Senior Living today.

About the Author

Mark Gladden is the Founder and CEO of Present Moments Senior Living, a cozy and comfortable family-run assisted living facility in San Diego. Mark is a U.S. Veteran-in-recovery who has been serving the recovery community of San Diego for a decade as Founder and CEO of Present Moments Recovery, which is an addiction treatment program in San Diego that offers the entire continuum of addiction treatment - from detox to sober living.


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