August 7, 2018

A group of four multi-ethnic seniors sitting together on patio furniture outdoors, talking and laughing. They are in retirement, relaxed and enjoying spending time with friends.

Moving an aging parent or loved one into senior living is one of the most difficult decisions many families face. However, it’s also one of the best things to do for an older loved one’s health, safety, and overall happiness. Assisted living communities are supportive environments where older adults receive assistance with their daily routines, as well as social engagement and maintenance-free accommodations so they can live as independently as possible.

But how do you know when your parent may need assisted living? While there’s no way to know the exact moment when your loved one needs additional support, there are often “red flags” that signal when an older adult is no longer able to live alone at home safely. Here are some clues to look for that might suggest it’s time to look into assisted living for your parent.

Problems with mobility or falling

If your parent has had a few close calls or experienced an injury from falling or trying to prevent a fall, it may be time to consider assisted living. Falls are the most common source of fatal and non-fatal injury among American adults aged 65 and older, with one-third of seniors falling each year. Many older adults have a fear of falling and may limit their mobility to avoid falling, which often increases their risk of falling. To prevent falls and fall-related injuries, assisted living facilities are specially designed for seniors’ mobility concerns, with standard safety features including grab bars in bathrooms, handrails in hallways, and alert systems in the event of a fall or other emergency.

Safety and security issues

Another reason families choose assisted living is because they’re concerned about the safety and security of a loved one living alone. It’s an unfortunate fact that older adults who live alone are often targeted by scammers who try to steal money and personal information. Seniors living alone also face the risk of theft by burglars looking for a vulnerable target. Most assisted living facilities have on-site security monitoring 24/7 and a dedicated care staff that can be contacted right away if assistance is needed. If you’re worried about the safety of your parent living alone, moving to an assisted living community can be a far more secure option.

Social isolation

Isolation and loneliness are common issues among older adults, and seniors who live alone are more likely to experience the negative physical and mental health effects of social isolation. If you notice that your aging parent has withdrawn from social activities and relationships, it may be time to consider assisted living. In assisted living, older adults have opportunities to socialize with their peers in a friendly, welcoming environment. Most communities have planned activities each week including classes, clubs, and cultural events so residents can meet new friends who share their interests.

Trouble with medication management

If your parent is having trouble remembering to take their medication, taking the wrong doses, or mixing up their medications, it’s time to intervene. Medication mismanagement has serious health effects that can be dangerous or even deadly. In assisted living, an expert care staff can assist with medication management including reminding residents to take their medication and storing or handling medications. For seniors who need additional help, licensed nurses are available to provide reliable and accurate medication administration.

Changes in personal care and hygiene

Older adults often experience health or mobility issues that make it more challenging to perform daily tasks like preparing their own meals, getting dressed, or grooming. One of the primary reasons older adults move to assisted living is to receive help with these daily tasks such as grooming, eating, getting dressed, and other personal care needs. If you notice that your parent has been neglecting his or her appearance or isn’t eating a healthy diet, assisted living may be right for them. Assisted living provides seniors with expert help with their daily routines so they can retain their independence and experience a better quality of life.

If you notice some of these warning signs, it may be time to begin researching and touring assisted living communities for your parent. By getting a head start on the search before assisted living becomes an urgent need, you can take your time to explore the best options for your parent and ensure a smoother transition to assisted living.