By Michael Gill, CSA, CFE
When is it kinder to your parent to move him or her into a senior living facility than to allow them to continue to live at home on their own? This is a conundrum faced by many concerned children of elderly parents. The short answer is: “when they are no longer safe.” Below are nine warning signs this safety line has been crossed.
Is your Loved One Safe Living Independently?
• Difficulty with two or more Activities of Daily Living (ADLs). The rule of thumb for when someone is ready for assisted living is when they need help completing two or more ADLs (dressing, bathing, eating, transferring, toileting and incontinence). But even the lesser threshold of “difficulty” as compared to “needs help” is a good barometer for when to consider a move.
• Social Isolation. If your loved one seems to stay at home with little outdoor or social activity, they are at increased risk for health issues such as dementia. Does your loved one get out of the house enough? Does your loved one have friends that they see on a regular basis? If not, talk to them about being social, and monitor their progress closely.
• Forgetfulness can be one of the first signs of cognitive impairment. Did your loved one forget to take out the trash or miss multiple appointments? Did your loved one forget their medications, or take them incorrectly?
• Loss of Appetite or the inability to eat or cook for themselves is a clear problem signal. Poor nutrition is not an infrequent problem as people age, and it can be dangerous.
• A Chronic Health Condition that is worsening can be one of the most obvious signs that they are unfit to live at home independently. Assess the severity and timeline of the chronic condition, consult a doctor and then talk to your loved one about the situation at hand.
• Uncharacteristic Events If your loved one has frequent minor accidents such as broken dishes, uncharacteristic mistakes such as wetting the bed, or more than one fall in a short time span, it’s time to pay close attention. While there can be many contributory factors involved, these events are also a sign your senior is failing to adequately care for themselves. A useful industry term, “failure to thrive,” can capture this situation nicely.
• Weight Loss/Looking Frail or even Significant Weight Gain is a signal that their bones may not be as strong as they used to be, and if they fall then the situation could escalate very quickly. For instance, have your loved one hold a cup of tea. Do they have the strength to hold it or is the cup shaking substantially? Or, how well can they stand up or sit down from the couch? Has their “dowager’s hump” become more prominent? Conversely, significant weight gain could be a sign of dementia. Your loved one may not remember eating lunch, so they eat another meal and then another meal.
• Neglected Environment- An unusually disorganized, cluttered or messy home can be a sign your parent can’t cope anymore. A neglected environment can get worse quickly, and may be unfit or even dangerous for your loved one to live in. Signs to look for: unopened mail, unpaid bills, a full voicemail box, unwashed clothes, markedly deteriorated personal hygiene, and expired or spoiled food.
These are just a few warning signs that you should take into consideration when talking to, or visiting your loved one. If you are noticing clear signs such as the ones listed above, it may be time to explore options in Austin senior living.
It bears repeating that the most important consideration is their health and safety. Be proactive in protecting your loved ones’ safety by being alert to their condition. If your loved one has no signs of health issues and is safe at home, then have a conversation with them NOW about their next living options, while there is no crisis. That way, when that time comes, the transition will be less traumatic for all concerned.
If your aging loved one has already illustrated significant signs of health and safety issues while living independently, or if you are seeking further information on the next step, contact us today for complimentary, personalized guidance for you and your family.