If your parent is struggling with health issues or cognitive impairments, it can be difficult to address, especially if you’ve relied on them as a source of comfort and support your whole life.
The right assisted living community offers support for the activities of daily living while keeping your parent safe. It can also preserve their independence and ensure access to meaningful programming that keeps life exciting. But assessing when your parent needs more help is tough. That’s doubly true if you or your parent harbor fears or misconceptions about assisted living.
Talking with a parent about moving begins with understanding that assisted living can improve their life, expand their options for connection, and maintain their independence. Your parent will retain control over their life while enjoying a welcoming community, nourishing and delicious meals, and maintenance-free living.
Remember that health issues do not mean your parent should lose control over their life. They are the ones who should decide what comes next. Framing things this way is key to a productive conversation.
So how do you know when your parent might benefit from moving to assisted living? Here are some signs to watch for:
Signs of Accidents
For many adults — especially those who lack access to quality public transportation — a car is key to independence. So when it’s no longer safe for your loved one to drive, they may benefit from moving to a supportive community to maintain their quality of life.
Some older adults worry about losing their driving privileges and may not tell their family members about car accidents. If your parent has a cognitive impairment, it’s also possible they may not notice the signs that their driving ability has declined. Look for dents and dings in their car, unexplained damage to the bumper, or a sudden increase in tickets or insurance premiums.
Adults struggling at home may have other accidents too. One in four older adults suffers a fall each year in the U.S., and that could be a sign it’s time for a move. Bumps, bruises, unexplained cuts, and other telltale signs of injuries might mean your parent is having more difficulty staying safe at home.
Changes in Mood or Personality
Changes in mood or personality might mean your parent is struggling with daily tasks. For instance, if your mom seems increasingly frustrated when doing tasks she once enjoyed, it might be because the tasks are physically painful or cognitively taxing.
Additionally, dementia affects more than just memory. It can also change your loved one’s behavior. In fact, some types of dementia, such as frontotemporal dementia, may affect personality or behavior well before you notice signs of forgetfulness. Assisted living offers a welcoming home for people with early-onset dementia, and many WesleyLife Communities for Healthy Living also offer memory support. Memory support caters specifically to the needs of people with advanced dementia. Enjoy the peace of mind of knowing that experts are looking out for your parent and can help your family navigate supporting a loved one with dementia.
Confusion with daily tasks can be a sign of dementia. It may also be a warning sign of other health problems, such as medication interactions, poorly controlled diabetes, or missed prescription doses.
Look for symptoms such as:
- Becoming lost more than usual.
- Struggling with instructions, such as following a recipe.
- Forgetting names.
- Experiencing difficulties with tasks that were once easy.
A doctor can help diagnose the underlying cause. A daily routine can help your loved one feel safe and confident, empowering them to more thoroughly enjoy their life. Assisted living offers support with medication management and other daily tasks, giving you peace of mind while supporting your loved one to enjoy a more independent lifestyle.
Trouble With Activities of Daily Living
Assisted living caters to people who struggle with activities of daily living, such as grooming or dressing. Struggling with tasks that once felt easy can undermine your loved one’s quality of life, making them feel embarrassed or overwhelmed. Assisted living preserves your loved one’s dignity, providing help with these tasks so they can focus on whatever makes their life feel most fulfilling.
Look for signs that your loved one is struggling, such as:
- A change in grooming habits. Your fashion-forward parent might suddenly wear mismatched clothes or repeat outfits.
- Changes in personal hygiene. A parent who worries about falling in the tub might wash their hair less frequently.
- Changes in the appearance of your loved one’s home. They might put things where they’re easier to reach or spend less time cleaning, making the house look more cluttered.
Your loved one may need help. That doesn’t mean they want it — at least not on someone else’s terms. Stereotypes about aging, ageism from loved ones, and poor perceptions of “nursing homes” may cause your loved one to panic at the idea of assisted living. They may become secretive, less willing to have visitors, or defensive about the notion of moving.
You can address this by talking openly and warmly about future plans and never attempting to impose your will on your parent. Offer reassurance and a collaborative spirit, and be mindful of which family members your parent trusts the most. Sometimes the best thing you can do is delegate the conversation to someone else in the family whose input your parent trusts. Be mindful of your parent’s communication style and family dynamics, then proceed accordingly.
Needs and Signs Don't Need to be Severe for Assisted Living To Help
Some people conceive of assisted living as a drastic step, reserved only for truly dire situations. Stereotypes about aging and senior living figure prominently in this notion. The truth is that there is no shame in either getting older or needing a little help.
Assisted living meets people where they are, centering their voices and needs while prioritizing their independence. Things don’t have to feel out of control, and your parent doesn’t have to be extremely ill. If you see some signs that your parent would benefit from a little extra help, then the supportive environment of assisted living could improve their quality of life — and yours.
Is it Time For Assisted Living?
Cognitive and physical health problems do not necessarily reduce your parent’s desire for independence. The decision to move to assisted living should be left to your parent and not unilaterally imposed on them. Parents may be sensitive to any sign that their children want to intrude on their privacy or undermine their independence. So collaboratively approach the topic, emphasizing concern over control. Work together on a plan you both feel comfortable with, and consider visiting communities together to ensure you find the perfect fit.
Not sure whether it’s time for assisted living or disagree with your parent about their needs? Encourage them to take this short needs assessment — or take it together. This confidential quiz can help identify your parent’s unmet needs and point them toward helpful next steps.
Post Topic(s): ASSISTED LIVING