If you have a senior loved one living by themselves in the family home, it might be time to start talking about downsizing. They may just need a smaller place that is safer and easier to maintain, but if they need a little help with everyday living, one option is assisted living.
Look for Signs Inside the Home
If you don’t live nearby, schedule a time to go visit your loved one to see what condition the house is in. If you do live nearby, take a few extra minutes to look more closely. Before you even go inside, check the mailbox for mail that hasn’t been taken inside or newspapers that are still laying in the yard or driveway. These are signs your loved one may not be feeling well enough to pick them up each day, either physically or mentally.
Once inside, look for signs of disinterest in daily living, like unpaid bills, unopened mail, and unread magazines. If you find moldy or spoiled food in the fridge or lots of empty chip bags or candy wrappers, your loved one is probably not eating the way they should be to stay healthy. Expired medications can mean they aren’t being taken on a regular basis. Any of these issues could point to an underlying health issue that is keeping them from taking care of themselves, or it could be they are lonely or depressed.
Look for Personal Signs
Other indications of needing some help with regular tasks can be seen by looking at your loved one or talking to others. If the senior appears unkempt or disheveled, unshaven or unshowered, it may be that these daily tasks have become difficult for them to do on their own. Another small sign of struggle is they used to wear shirts with buttons and now they only wear shirts that pull over their head.
Your loved one may not tell you everything that’s going on with them because they don’t want you worry about them, but they are confiding in another, or someone else may notice things you don’t because you don’t see them on a daily basis. Talk to their friends or other relatives and see if they mention extra doctor’s appointments or times they have fallen. Their friends may mention they haven’t been attending church regularly or they no longer call to get together. A neighbor might have seen an ambulance at the house or realized your loved one doesn’t come outside as much as they used to. Again, these are all signs they may need some help.
If your loved one is in a place that is in good condition and on one floor, in-home care may be an option. Having someone check in on them daily to ensure they’re bathing, getting dressed, and eating on a regular basis can be extremely helpful, especially if you aren’t able to see them every day. However, if they need to downsize, assisted living can be a good option. It not only offers regular meals and limited assistance, it also provides social interaction that many seniors lack as they start to lose friends and relatives.
Keep in mind, assisted living does not provide full care or medical assistance. If your loved one requires constant care or is suffering from other more serious ailments that requires more specialized nursing care, they may need a skilled nursing facility. Assisted living communities differ in the amount of support they provide, and they offer consultations or evaluations before a senior becomes a resident to determine if they meet the requirements to live there. Don’t be upset if the consultant says it is not a good fit for your loved or that they need more care than the facility provides, it is better for them to be honest so you can find a place that has the appropriate level of care.