How do I know when it’s time to move my parent to assisted living?
How do I know that it’s time to move my parent into assisted living?
This is a question that plagues many of my clients. There is no easy answer to this question. It is very personal and one that requires a lot of thought. One person’s limit might be nowhere near another’s limit. This should be a no judgment zone for all involved. The goal is to do what is best for your parent and for the caregiver (whether it is your other parent or yourself or a sibling).
Here are some signs that it might be time for assisted living.
Take a good look at your parent. Not just at what they are telling you but at what’s really going on with them. Most people try to put their best foot forward and not let anyone see what’s really going on. So this might require a little detective work on your part.
Start off by doing a general assessment of your parent and the current living situation.
Are they as put together as they usually are or do they seem different or disheveled?
Are they wearing clean clothes?
Are they losing weight? Do they look malnourished?
Check the fridge, pantry and trash. Ask if they’ve eaten and see if there is evidence of that. Is there a lot of expired food or food that’s gone bad?
Does the usually clean, well kept house look dirty and cluttered? For example, dirty dishes that look like they’ve been there a while, dead or dying plants, overflowing trash, neglecting or overfeeding pet care.
Are there safety risks in the home?
Look at area rugs, loose cords or too much stuff on the floors. Do they need grab bars in the bathrooms?
Are they still driving, should they be? Look for dings and scratches on their car. Have they had accidents or gotten lost?
Have they become isolated?
Do they seem depressed or withdrawn?
Are they happy and are they living the lifestyle that they want?
Look for trouble handling their finances.
Are there stacks of unpaid bills or services being shut off for lack of payment?
Look for multiple payments of the same bill.
Have they fallen for a scam or are there unexplained expenses?
Take a look at their mental state. Look for signs of dementia.
Is there increased cognitive decline?
Does your parent wander? – This is a super big one for safety reasons. As dementia progresses the risk of wandering becomes much greater. It only takes a moment for your parent to wander off and the risk of falls or injury increase drastically.
Is your parent experiencing Sundowners Syndrome? Here’s what I mean…does your parent become very agitated or become aggressive later in the day? Does it impact the daily routine? This can be a very heavy burden for the caregiver.
Are they becoming aggressive or combative? This can manifest verbally, physically or even sexually and can be extremely difficult for the caregiver.
Examine their care needs and be REALISTIC about what they need.
Do they have increasing care needs?
Are they taking their medications? And more importantly, are they taking them correctly? Overdosing is very dangerous risk.
Do they need help with bathing, dressing, oral care, etc.?
Is their mobility worsening? Do they fall often?
How many times have they been to hospital recently?
Take a good hard look at the caregiver.
Is their health declining? Have they been ill more often or have they “gone downhill?”
Are they at wits end and more easily agitated? This isn’t good for them or the person that they are giving care to.
Are they able to get restorative sleep or are they running on fumes?
Is there resentment growing towards the person that they are caring for?
Is there too much “heavy lifting?” Examples, every care need falls to the caregiver without respite, constant incontinence issues, aggression or violent behavior exerted toward the caregiver on a regular basis, etc.
Does the caregiver want to resume the previous relationship of wife, daughter, son, etc. and have the “heavy lifting” care needs handled by a professional caregiver?
After going through the above list of questions, you should have a clearer picture of your parent’s living situation and be able to confidently make a decision to move or not. I’m not saying that it will be easy, it won’t, but it will be well thought out.