There are times throughout life when difficult topics must be discussed. One of the most difficult of all is where mom, dad, or an older loved one should live as they age. There are many older adults who are not open to having this discussion – especially with their grown children. So how can a family know when it’s time to talk about making a move to a senior community? Pay attention to the following signs.
1) Physical health concerns: Many older adults may face physical health problems as they age that can make daily life difficult, limit their mobility, and/or require additional support. From heart disease to diabetes to cancer or other chronic conditions, physical health problems can present challenges that many family members are not qualified to take on. Even something as common as arthritis can become a challenge for seniors living alone, for instance, if they have problems opening doors with knobs or unscrewing lids.
When an older adult’s physical health declines, a move to a senior living community can be a positive way to ensure they receive the care and assistance they need. Learn more about senior health issues that can signal it’s time to talk about making the move in the everydayhealth.com blog, “The 15 Most Common Health Concerns for Seniors.”
2) Falls or other accidents: Falls are one of the greatest threats to an older adult’s health and well-being. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention:
When an older adult falls it can be a red flag that they need help with mobility issues at a minimum – especially if it happens more than once. The older adult may require additional care and rehabilitation to recover from injuries sustained in a fall. Senior living communities are designed to help minimize fall risk. They have processes and procedures in place to help prevent and quickly respond to any falls that occur. When a fall causes an injury, talk to the person’s physician for their recommendations about the best place to live safely.
3) Mental health concerns: A diagnosis of dementia, depression or Alzheimer’s disease often means the time has come to discuss what lifestyle is going to be best for your loved one, either immediately, or in the near future. For many families who are caregivers, memory loss can quickly become overwhelming, requiring constant attention so the loved one does not get hurt, wander off or attempt to undertake chores like cooking that may be dangerous for them.
Older adults who suffer from depression are also at risk because they may stop taking care of themselves, be unable to sleep well, lose interest in life, and/or abuse drugs or alcohol, any of which can cause them harm. For many older adults, moving to the communal environment of senior living can help them rejoin the world and feel good about life again. A physician can help advise on next steps for older adults with depression including medication and best living options.
4) Missed medications: Many older adults take medications to keep them healthy, so when they start missing doses, take more than they should, or forget to refill prescriptions, it’s a sign of trouble ahead. Many medications must be taken regularly to be effective and, in some cases, stopping a medication can be hazardous to their health. When medication non-adherence becomes a problem due to memory loss, confusion, apathy, or other reasons, caregivers should step in and keep track, as in the case with senior living communities where qualified aides dispense medications so seniors cannot lose track. For a more in-depth look at the problem of medication non-adherence in older adults, checkout the healthproadvice.com blog, “Medication Non-Compliance in the Elderly: Implications for Nursing Practice.”
5) Caregiver support limitations: Caregiving seems so simple at the start, but it can become an overwhelming and life-changing situation when the older adult needs more and more care. Caregivers often are unpaid, also have jobs and families they are responsible for, and as the stress builds over time, may themselves start to have health issues from the constant pressure of caring for their loved one.
In other cases, seniors may not live close enough to family to receive their help, and thus must rely on hired help, enlist nearby friends, or just try to manage on their own. Depending on the level of need and the individual’s overall health, the inability to provide adequate caregiving often puts them at risk and should be a signal that it’s time to talk about other care options like assisted living or memory care. For a better understanding of the state of caregiving today, the cdc.gov, blog, “Caregiving for Family and Friends — A Public Health Issue,” looks at the impacts of caregiving on the caregiver.
In all cases, be sure to talk with your loved one’s physician to keep them informed and get their expert advice.
At Thrive Senior Living we understand that making decisions that impact your loved one’s lifestyle can be hard to do. We’re here to help solve problems facing older adults in a variety of situations. To learn more about our services, amenities, and lifestyle options, contact us today!