As we age, our health care needs are likely to change, which can make navigating health-related decisions difficult. While many older adults envision spending their retirement years living independently, many will likely require additional support. At some point, many adults may have to decide whether to hire outside help, rely on a family member, or move into an assisted living community. This process can become more complicated when failing health and financial concerns are factored in.
What Is Assisted Living for Seniors?
Senior assisted living communities are designed for older adults who need additional support with their day-to-day lives. Their staff offers support with daily tasks such as eating, taking medication, bathing, housekeeping, preparing meals, and monitoring medicine. For added peace of mind, medical care is also accessible around the clock in the event of an emergency. As older adults begin to consider transitioning into an assisted living community, many, along with their family members, ask, “How do I know it’s the right time to move?”
Signs It Might Be Time for Assisted Living
Coming to terms with a loss of independence can be extremely difficult for aging adults. For many adults, concerned family members often initiate the conversation of moving first. While we all age at different rates and in different ways, there are some clear signs that it might be time to move into an assisted living community.
Declining health conditions – As we age, we become more at risk of chronic conditions such as diabetes, high blood pressure, and heart disease. According to research conducted by AARP, “more than 70 million Americans aged 50 and older, or four out of five older adults, suffer from at least one chronic condition.” Managing these conditions, including traveling to doctors’ appointments and taking the appropriate medications, can pose problems. Assisted living communities help manage these conditions, which allows residents to enjoy a higher quality of life.
Difficulty with managing finances – Age-related memory loss can confuse people when it comes to managing money. This can make paying bills on time and sticking to a budget more difficult. Other memory disorders, like Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia, can also affect one’s ability to understand finances, putting them more at risk of scams, forgetting to pay bills, or filing taxes properly.
Inability to care for oneself – If your loved one is unable to care for themselves, for example, maintaining their living space, bathing themselves, or completing basic daily tasks, it may be time to consider assisted living. A large number 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 communities have caregivers on staff who will make sure residents maintain proper hygiene, a healthy diet, and live in a clean environment.
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 communities. Planned activities, social dining areas, and one-on-one interaction are everyday occurrences.
Questions to Consider
Making a move to an assisted living community can be a hard decision for everyone involved, and finding the right time to move can be even more challenging. When a loved one has suffered from serious health concerns, such as a broken hip, the need to move to an assisted living community becomes more obvious. For older adults who still manage to take care of themselves but are slowly losing independence, the transition can be unclear. If you are not sure if it is the right time, Consumer Affairs has gathered a series of questions to help you in your decision-making process. They are summarized below:
Has your loved one fallen recently?
According to the National Council on Aging, falls are the leading cause of fatal injuries and the most common cause of non-fatal related hospital admissions among older adults. If your loved one has fallen recently or is constantly falling, this may be a sign that you should consider moving them to an assisted living community.
Is your loved one taking their medications?
If you notice your loved one is struggling to keep up with their medications, try to find out the cause. Are they forgetting? Is picking up at the pharmacy difficult for them? If yes, this may indicate a need to make a change. On-site nursing staff in assisted living communities can coordinate medications to make the process smoother.
Does your loved one suffer from a chronic condition?
Being diagnosed with a worsening chronic condition exacerbates the need for an assisted living community. The staff in the community can help preserve the quality of life for them. For those with chronic conditions, basic daily tasks can become increasingly difficult. When you have staff support, energy can be reserved for exploring hobbies and socializing with others.
Is your loved one having trouble taking care of themselves?
Cooking, housekeeping, laundry, and other basic daily tasks can become more difficult as we age. Assisted living communities offer these services so seniors can avoid related injuries and instead spend time doing what they love.
Is your loved one eating properly?
Have you noticed significant weight loss or gain within the past few months? Both rapid weight loss and gain can be side effects of bigger health problems or difficulty preparing and eating food. If you are not sure what the cause might be, you can always consult their doctor and ask if assisted living might help relieve the problem.
MENTAL HEALTH AND DEMENTIA
Does your loved one wander from home and get lost?
This could be a sign of cognitive issues such as Alzheimer’s or another form of dementia. If you notice your loved one wandering or getting lost in familiar places, talk to your loved one and their healthcare provider. Assisted living communities with memory care units are designed to support those with cognitive impairments and memory disorders.
Is your loved one isolated?
Isolation is a public health concern, especially for older adults. Long-term isolation can lead to increased blood pressure, heart disease, anxiety, and depression. Your loved one might be feeling isolated if they rarely leave their home, live alone, or have stopped participating in social activities.
At Inspīr Carnegie Hill, our Sol assisted living program is 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. We use a 360º Assessment with state-of-the-art technology and evidence-based tools to understand the whole person and develop care plans that address body, mind, and spirit. We take a personalized approach to caregiving, and we honor each resident’s unique desires and preferences. The 360º Assessment then results in a care plan that incorporates key dimensions of health and wellness and aligns with the goals of care, including emotional, social, physical, intellectual, spiritual, environmental, and financial.