How likely are you to need some form of long-term care? According to one study, you have a nearly 70 percent chance of needing some kind of long-term care in your lifetime.
Typically, the decision isn’t made alone. More commonly, family encouragement to make the decision is needed.
Making the decision to consider assisted living is a complex one — both emotionally and practically. Your goal is to see your loved ones safe and well but hesitate to uproot them from the comfortable environment they know.
So, how can you all feel more confident about whether or not it’s time to suggest to your loved one that they shouldn’t be living alone anymore?
Although every situation is different, here are some signs to consider.
Signs you could benefit from assisted living
The decision about when is the right time to move into an assisted living home is ultimately a personal one. But there are a few factors to consider — a constellation of signs — that can help guide your thinking and decision-making.
- Does your parent or loved one need help with daily activities? If they’re no longer able to bathe and groom themselves regularly — and especially if this prevents your parent from visiting people and places they otherwise would — your parent might stand to benefit a great deal from an assisted living community where staff can help with these activities.
- Has your parent or loved one fallen recently? Falls are common in older people; one-third of older adults fall each year, and it is a leading cause of injury and death. While there is no guarantee that in an assisted living community you are less likely to fall, exercise classes that cater to all types of functioning levels can help improve and maintain muscle strength (the leading indicator of a person’s risk for falling).
- Is your parent or loved one consistently eating nutritious meals? Proper diet (and exercise) is key to maintaining optimum function as we age. Choosing the right foods can be difficult, however, for older adults who have trouble getting to a grocery store or who find it difficult to carry the food into the house and prepare it, unhealthy comfort foods can be an easier, tempting alternative. Assisted living communities offer healthier meal options and can easily meet doctor-recommended dietary guidelines.
- Has the cost of in-home care reached the cost of assisted living? Many seniors opt for in-home care rather than move into assisted living because it is a less expensive solution for their needs. However, as needs change, you’ll likely need to add on additional layers of care. This helpful online resource can help compare the cost of in-home care and assisted living.
- Does your parent or loved one no longer drive? Declining mobility is a health risk for older adults. Without access to personal or public transportation, older adults are vulnerable to social isolation, which is when someone has limited or no social interactions. Social isolation is linked to increased mortality rates and greater risk for dementia, hospital readmission and falling. Assisted living communities offer recreational activities, which improve mental and physical health.
The risk of waiting too long
Research shows that most adults fail to plan for long-term care before an emergency or near-emergency forces them to. Waiting for an external event to force the issue carries great risk.
A rushed decision typically means less input from your loved one. It also can be difficult to feel confident in the decision you’ve made when rushed because of a crisis.
Beginning your research early allows you to ease into the conversation about assisted living with your loved one. In turn, it’s easier to come to an agreement with your loved one when it comes to defining what the day would look like when a move is the right decision for your family.
Having “the talk” can be the most worrisome part of considering assisted living for an aging parent or loved one. We’ve created this useful guide to help you get started.