Making decisions about your parent’s living situation can be a challenge. When is the right time to transition them to assisted living? If you act too soon, will they feel hurt or angry about losing independence? Or will you put their well-being at risk by waiting too long?
At some point, it may no longer be in your parent’s best interests to live alone. By understanding the warning signs, you can act in confidence that you are keeping them safe—even enriching their life—by acting at just the right time.
Is your parent starting to struggle with memory loss? If so, they may take the wrong dose of their medication, overdose, or even forget to take it altogether. They may also forget to schedule or show up for important doctor appointments, putting their health at serious risk.
Your parent’s daily meals are an important part of their health and well-being. If they forget to eat, struggle with preparing their own meals, or come to rely on too many processed "convenience" foods, they will lack the essential nutrients they need to live at their best. Appliances and kitchen tools may also present safety risks if your parent’s eyesight or memory is declining.
We all joke about falling behind on our housework or being "cleanliness challenged." However, if you notice a significant decline in your parent’s living conditions, that may be a sign it is no longer safe for them to live alone. Disorganized, accumulating items may cause tripping hazards. High levels of grime in the kitchen and bathroom may present sanitation issues or risks for slips and falls. If your parent is lacking the strength, eyesight, memory, or will to keep up with their daily chores, they will need assistance in these areas.
It takes memory and organization to stay on top of budgets and bills. Your parent may forget to pay a bill or even forget how to balance a checkbook, leading to late fees, letters, and distressing or confusing phone calls from banks or creditors. Scammers also prey on the elderly, convincing them to hand their money over to fake charities or investments. If your parents are around another person, they may not fall prey to these scams.
For the elderly, social, mental, and emotional health are just as important, if not more so, then physical health. Serious depression is a major concern for those who live in isolation. Is your parent still finding ways to connect with friends and participate in social activities, or are they spending most of their time shut in the house with the television? Are they having trouble finding the energy, planning abilities, and transportation needed to make rich interpersonal connections?
If any of these signs hit a nerve, it might be time to consider exploring assisted living for your parent. Although broaching the subject can feel challenging, many seniors warm to the possibilities of assisted living once they discover how many opportunities they will have to make connections, nurture their interests, eat a variety of delicious foods (they didn’t have to prepare), and enjoy the good life.