Many older adults envision their later years living independently in the home they raised their families or hosted their loved ones. However, as we age, we may undergo physical and mental changes that make living independently more challenging. At some point in their lives, older adults will require additional support with activities of daily living such as bathing, dressing, transportation and medication management. While living alone has some benefits, it can become a point of concern for family members, especially if they begin to notice significant changes in their loved ones. Assisted living communities are designed for older adults who need assistance but want to maintain a certain level of independence. According to U.S. News, assisted living provides support with daily activities like eating, taking medication, bathing, cooking and cleaning. While assisted living requires a physical move, it also provides services, such as planned activities and medical staff, that keep residents safe and improve their overall quality of life. However, deciding when to make the transition can be difficult for the whole family.
Signs It’s Time for Assisted Living
Many older adults see the transition into assisted living as a loss of their independence. However, this isn’t always the case. Assisted living communities allow older adults to reserve their energy for things they enjoy, enabling them to stay independent for longer. If you or your loved one are considering assisted living, here are some signs that it might be time to make the move:
- Inability to care for oneself. If your loved one is unable to maintain their living space, bathe themselves or complete basic daily tasks, it’s time to consider assisted living. A lot of family members take on the responsibility of caregiving without understanding how demanding that can be, especially when they have their own families to care for each day. Assisted living facilities have caregivers on staff who will make sure their residents maintain proper hygiene, a healthy diet, and live in a clean environment.
- Trouble managing finances. Many aging seniors have difficulty with managing their financial responsibilities such as paying bills on time or falling victim to financial scams. If you notice your loved one is ignoring unpaid bills or making unusual purchases, it may be a sign that something else is going on with their health.
- Worsening medical conditions. If your loved one is falling consistently or often and becoming injured as a result, assisted living could provide a safer environment. In addition, many older adults are managing one or more chronic conditions such as heart disease, diabetes, or Alzheimer’s disease, which can also impact one’s ability to live independently.
- Lack of socialization. According to a study conducted by the National Institute on Aging, nearly 17% of all Americans aged 65 or older are isolated due to their location, living status, language or disability. Loneliness and isolation can have negative long-term effects on one’s health, such as cognitive decline, increased mortality, and feelings of depression. Socialization is at the core of assisted living facilities. Planned activities, social dining areas and one-on-one interaction are everyday occurrences at most facilities.
Benefits of Assisted Living for Seniors
While the thought of transitioning a loved one into an assisted living facility can come with some guilt, these communities are designed to provide more independence for older adults. In fact, assisted living can be an opportunity for something new and exciting. Here are a few of the benefits of assisted living that you may not have considered:
- More independence. While many people attach a sense of loss with a move to assisted living, it’s actually quite the opposite. Instead of relying on a family member or outside party for assistance, all daily tasks are taken care of by staff. Assisted living facilities provide help with bathing, toileting, and shopping, cooking and coordinating medical care. This leaves plenty of time to discover interests and hobbies and cultivate new relationships.
- Safer living option. As we age we are more at risk of health emergencies, from falling to more complex issues. When living alone, these injuries and incidents could become life-threatening. However, at assisted living communities, there is always a staff person or nurse available to help, no matter the time of day. Communities tend to be located conveniently near hospitals for emergency care, which will additionally add peace of mind for round the clock care.
- Socialization. Many of us worry about our loved one when they are on their own. With busy schedules, juggling children, jobs and our own social engagements, making sure they don’t feel lonely can be a real struggle. Assisted living communities provide a wide variety of activities for their residents. From choir to arts and crafts, there’s always an opportunity to learn and socialize with others. Socialization is proven to be beneficial for one’s overall health, especially for those living with Alzheimer’s or dementia related illnesses.
- Healthier lifestyle. Older adults have unique lifestyle needs that can be met more easily in assisted living facilities. Residents are provided healthy and balanced meals that meet their nutrition requirements and promote longevity. Exercise is also an important part of a healthy lifestyle. Many facilities offer safe and supervised group exercise classes which help adults stay healthy for longer and is a great way to establish social connections.
Discussing Assisted Living with Your Loved One
There may come a time when you need to approach your loved one about the possibility of moving to an assisted living community. This can be a challenging conversation, especially if your older adult is not mentally prepared to move. When talking to your senior about moving, it’s important to practice empathy and patience. Here are some additional tips to help guide your conversation:
- Lead with your concerns. Initiate the conversation by leading with the concerns you have for your loved one’s wellbeing. This may include some observations around changes in their behavior or health condition. Prioritize your focus to two or three major concerns.
- Do the research first. Touring different communities can feel like a chore after a while. You may consider touring your top three communities before initiating the conversation so you have options to give your loved one when the time comes. Take into consideration your loved one’s budget and top priorities. You may consider taking notes during your tour to provide details and answers to your loved one’s questions.
- Stay positive. Your attitude will reflect how you feel. Make sure to stay calm and positive when speaking with your loved one about a potential move. Offering a helping hand and simplify the process as much as possible.
- Revisit the conversation. If your aging parent gets frustrated or angry, try to stay calm and listen. It’s important to recognize and respect their decision, even if you don’t agree. You may need to put the conversation on hold and revisit the topic at a different time.
Assisted Living at Inspīr Senior Living
At Inspīr Senior Living we offer assisted living called Sol. Sol is a flexible, tiered assisted living program designed to accommodate residents who need various levels of assistance with personal care and activities of daily living. Sol offers three care and medication management levels depending on a resident’s specific needs and functional abilities. Care and medication levels are determined through a comprehensive assessment using factors like time, frequency, and complexity to arrive at the appropriate level. Residents who have chosen the Sol program can also receive certain skilled nursing services on an à la carte basis as needed.