If you’re a family caregiver, you may already know the struggle all too well. Your loved one can no longer fully take care of themselves, but you hesitate to suggest a new living situation. It is a gut-wrenching decision, but one that might have to be made at some point. But how, exactly, do you know the time is right?
There are a few telltale signs that indicate assisted (or independent) living might be a better option than remaining in their home. These include, but they are certainly not limited to:
- Uncontrolled medical condition. If your loved one has recently suffered a stroke, for example, and only has limited use of their extremities, they will need around-the-clock supervision.
- Advanced Alzheimer’s. Memory loss and, to some degree, mild dementia are common in older Americans. But advanced Alzheimer’s puts some of our most vulnerable population at risk. Alzheimer’s.Net notes that common symptoms encompass everything from an inability to eat independently to extreme difficulty sleeping, swallowing, and toileting.
- Extreme isolation. If you’re caregiving from a distance, it might be a smart move to physically visit your aging loved one. This can help you get a better idea of whether they are suffering from isolation, loneliness, or depression. In this case, moving into a more social setting can enhance their quality of life.
More than just your loved one’s current condition, there are external factors that might play a role in your decision to pursue assisted living. Two factors are cost and lack of support. Seniors who continue to pay rent or have a high mortgage and also have to foot the bill for things like grocery shopping, rideshare services, and other necessities may find it is simply more cost-effective to relocate to a community setting. Remember, however, that there is a difference between assisted and independent living. Each provides these types of services, but assisted living goes a step further and can help with medication management and activities of daily living, like bathing and getting dressed.
Similarly, as a family caregiver, if you do not receive support from your siblings or other family, friends, or resources, it’s okay to admit that you cannot take care of them properly. This is even more important if you have no recourse for respite. Caring for someone around the clock is mentally, physically, and financially depleting. While you should always have your loved one’s best interest at heart, you must also be willing to admit when what you can provide is not enough to keep them safe and healthy.
How to Talk to Your Loved One
If, ultimately, you decide that your aging relative is no longer capable of living independently, even with assistance, you have to have the “talk.” It’s best to spread it out over several weeks, if possible, and plant the seeds early. Put a positive spin on the situation by asking questions such as, “Wouldn’t it be nice to have friends around?” Or “I’ve heard that Janet’s mom really enjoys having chef-inspired dishes at each meal at X Retirement Center.”
Be prepared for some hurt feelings, and possibly accusations of apathy. Be patient and persistent and remember that their well-being is the only desired outcome.
Moving someone that you’ve always seen as strong and independent into an assisted living setting is never easy. But the need for focused care should outweigh any guilt you feel for suggesting the idea. Remember, pay close attention to their environment and to your own ability to provide the care they need.
If you are still looking for resources to support your decision, see below. We’ve compiled a list of sites that can provide answers and insight to your most pressing questions and concerns.
- 10 Early Symptoms of Dementia
- Senior Services & Options: What’s Out There?
- Signs of Caregiver Burnout and How to Prevent It
- How to Avoid Loneliness and Social Isolation For Seniors
- 10 Common Ealderly Health Conditions
This article was written by Lydia Chan.
If you feel your senior loved one is in need of assisted living, please contact us today to learn more about the transition and how we can meet your loved one’s needs.