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When Should My Parents Move from Independent to Assisted Living?

Words are often powerful in that they carry underlying assumptions about who we are as people. “Assisted Living” can sound like you rely on others and “need” others to get by in your day-to-day activities. While this could be true, assisted living can also give you more freedom and independence to enjoy the things you truly wish to fill your time with. 

So, suppose you suspect that your parents are struggling with their independent living status. In that case, it makes it even more important to discuss the possibility of moving to assisted living care with them. How do you know when you should?  

Here are 11 cautions to look for when considering that Assisted Living transition from Independent Living:

Top 11 Signs it is time to move from Independent Living to Assisted Living.

1) Recent accidents or falls when living independently: This is usually the first alarming sign to families. If your loved one cannot get help promptly, and the prospect of another fall is increasing, this can be a sure sign that you should consider getting help.

2) Health problems/crisis with slow recovery when living independently: As we get older, our body’s ability to heal quickly declines significantly. This is a slower recognition of decline than an immediate crisis such as a hospital visit or stroke. This slow recovery process affects all areas of daily living and may be time to make a change in an environment where care is available.

3)The loss of a partner or significant other when living independently: Partners and close friends are often a “crutch” in our lives as we become older adults – filling one another voids and supporting each other in the security of knowing you will get that daily hug or call. Losing a close partner or friend can precipitate a decline. It is important to be there for them during this time and monitor their responses to the loss carefully. Note changes in attitude or behaviour and seek professional help if the concern increases.

4) Serious weight loss when living independently: Sometimes, you can see this visibly, and if you do not know the cause of this, you should be concerned. When you hug mom or dad, do they seem thinner to you? If the weight loss is noticeable and you feel you should be worried, ask them delicately to explain the weight loss. They may even admit to “not taking very good care of themself.” Such abrupt weight loss is a sign that should cause concern as it could be a myriad of issues from depression to medical diagnoses and even a lack of grocery shopping and meal preparation. Peek in their fridge to check for expired foods. It might be time to move to assisted living for support in this department.

(Keep your parents at a healthy weight with these valuable and essential nutrition tips)

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5) Uncharacteristically unkempt appearance when living independently: Another sign to monitor is the neglect of personal hygiene. Again, this can be caused by many different things. Try to find out why: is it their mobility? Apathy? No socialization to get them going. For example, if mom has regularly had her hair done in the past and now looks her hair is messy now, you should understand the cause. If this is rooted in depression or forgetfulness, this can be cause for concern.

6) Increased household clutter and/or lack of care when living independently: Hoarding or refusing to throw things away can signify deteriorating mental health. Signs of careless housecleaning can be a sign of worsening physical health. It can also be a sign of declining mental wellbeing caused by depression or memory loss (a symptom of serious problems such as dementia). Learn more about the myths and misconceptions of memory loss in this article. 

7) Erratic behaviour when living independently: Everyone may exhibit behaviour that can be perceived as unpredictable by others. But adult children who know parents well should know when parents’ behaviour crosses the line into something to be concerned about. If their friends or other people note unusual behaviour, you should certainly pay attention to this. If the erratic behaviour is rooted in deteriorating mental health, this is certainly a reason to think about Assisted Living.

8) Signs of a loss of independence: No matter how much senior parents persevere in vibrancy, age catches up with all of us in terms of dwindling eyesight and other reduced physical function. The ability to drive carefully is an important part of your senior loved ones’ independence. If they have had accidents, this is an obvious cause for concern. Look at their vehicle for scrapes and indents. If they are leery of driving under certain conditions (nighttime), this may be typical, but it is also restrictive. 

(How do you know if your parents should receive independent living care before assisted care? This post might have the answers for you

"One of the refreshing aspects of life in a retirement home is that social interaction becomes easy and customary."
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9)Social signals of the need for a change: Many people, as they age, become used to spending more time alone. When loved ones or friends pass on ahead of them, they may become used to less social activity. This does not need to be a norm, though. In fact, we know that loneliness can be hazardous to people’s health. Lack of social activity should always be a cause of concern for adult children of seniors. One of the refreshing aspects of life in a retirement home is that social interaction becomes easy and customary. In many cases, social skills that have long been undeveloped are revived in a community of people of similar age. When friends and neighbours are just outside your door all the time, it’s easy to socialize much more – and to gain the many health advantages of socialization.

10) Medications are getting missed or misused when living independently: If there are pills or medications left out on the countertop that is out of order, or your parents are not taking the medication at the right times – be it too little or too many – this is possibly one of the most alarming red flags it is time for assisted living. Medications are sensitive to cause, reason, and frequency of use. Once this task becomes improperly managed, it is a grave concern, and it is certainly time to consider Assisted Living for Support.

11) Concerned about their ability to drive: If you are worried about your parent’s driving, find a way to ask them for a ride, then carefully observe their driving. Watch their reaction time to external factors and their distraction level. How close attention do they pay to the road, to other drivers, and anything else? Are they able to focus on the task of driving? If not, you may need to consider moving to assisted living, where there are transportation services available.

The Manor Villages combine elegant senior living with quality care. We’re the community with heart. If you would like more information about our independent or assisted living suites and lifestyle options, contact The Manor Village at 403-686-8386