Seven signs it could be time for assisted living

Deciding its time for a senior loved one to transition to assisted living can be one of the most difficult decisions a family can make. While it can be normal to have a bad day, if problems persist, your loved one’s health and safety could be at risk. Below, we provide seven signs that it may be time to consider assisted living or an elevated level of care, such as in-home care.

  1. Trouble with personal hygiene or unpleasant odors?
    Has your loved one’s hair started to look unkept or greasy? Is there a body odor or dirt under the fingernails? These issues can be a sign of self-neglect due to physical or mental impairment or a diminished ability to care of oneself. In addition, if you suspect your loved one is having frequent accidents or incontinence, this is often also a sign that a higher level of assistance is needed.

  2. Is the house or surrounding property looking unkept?
    Has your loved one’s once tidy yard begun to look unrecognizable? Is the house cluttered or are dishes being left unclean in the sink? This may be a sign of neglect due to physical or mental impairment. A cluttered or unclean home can also pose a safety risk. For example, items left out on the floor could cause a risk of falls.

  3. Increase in falls or other personal injury?
    According to the CDC, one out of every four older adults will fall each year in the United States. Has your loved one become one of them? Falls can cause serious injuries, such as broken bones and head trauma, and even death. Be sure to eliminate tripping hazards, such as loose rugs or wires and make sure handrails are secure and installed on all staircases. You may even want to consider grab bars in the bathroom. However, despite your best efforts, if falls remain a big issue, it may be time to seek additional help.

  4. Reminders to take medication?
    Forgetting to take medication can lead to worsening medical conditions, hospitalization or even death. This is also another sign your loved one might be struggling to take care of themselves. It’s important to ensure medications are being taken as instructed or prescribed by a medical professional.

  5. Loss of weight or inability to prepare meals?
    Has your loved one begun skipping meals or cooking all together? Perhaps you are finding they are using quick, easy snacks to substitute for meals. If their diet has changed in this manner and/or they are losing weight, this could put them at risk of malnutrition and other physical health problems.

  6. Increased Isolation?
    Your loved one used to love going out to game night, but now prefers to stay in. They might even have stopped taking walks. These are signs of isolation, which can lead to depression. If they don’t seem happy or no longer enjoy activities they engaged in regularly, it may be worth asking if a change in living conditions might help.

  7. Mail left unopened or bills that have not been paid?
    Are payments for bills being missed? Has mail been left unopened on the table? Aging seniors can have difficulty keeping up with their financial needs. If dementia is a factor, it can make it much more difficult to handle abstract tasks or manage numbers.

Is it time to have a discussion with your loved one?
Do some the issues above seem all too familiar? It could be time to begin talking to your loved one about an elevated level of care. There are several options to choose from depending on the need. Homecare and hospice organizations can help discuss options. Northern Light Home Care & Hospice is always available for help. Contact information for our various locations across Maine can be found here.