Four Ways To Assess A Senior’s Need For Assisted Living
The holidays are here, and the spirit of love and family is stronger than ever. The end of a year often serves as a time of reflection for family caregivers as they navigate the future of their senior loved one’s care. Sometimes, assisted living is the prominent next stage in retirement, but other times the choice is more complex. Either way, the decision to move from home or independent living to assisted living can be difficult for seniors and family caregivers.
What Is Assisted Living?
In many ways, assisted living facilities are similar to independent living communities, in which seniors can benefit from a sense of belonging with a calendar of planned activities to enhance their quality of life. The critical difference is that more reasonable care is included in assisted living. For example, food is usually standard in an assisted living plan, with meals served daily in a communal dining area.
Another meaningful way in which assisted living differs from independent living is that residents can receive around-the-clock activities of daily living (ADL) support from on-site caregivers. These highly trained caregivers assist with more complex tasks with reduced mobility, like dressing, eating, moving around, showering, and using the bathroom.
Who Is Assisted Living For?
Assisted living is best suited to seniors struggling to stay safe and healthy in their homes or independent living community, but it does not require specialist nursing care. For example, assisted living may be the ideal option if a senior is struggling with ADLs and has a long-term medical condition involving light monitoring and daily medication.
Who Is Assisted Living Not For?
Of course, there are a whole host of senior living options available, and while assisted living suits a broad spectrum of seniors, it isn’t the right choice for everyone. As an entry stage of senior care, there are some specialist services that assisted living doesn’t typically provide. For instance, if a senior has a complex medical condition and requires full-time nursing care, or if they have Alzheimer’s disease and require specialist memory care, assisted living may be unsuitable.
How To Tell When Assisted Living Is Needed (And How The Holidays Can Help)
The holidays can present various challenges highlighting a senior’s declining physical, social, or emotional well-being. Here are four key things to look for during the holiday season:
1. Difficult Family Visits
Many families spend more time than usual visiting relatives and close friends during the holidays. If your loved one finds their regular holiday outings particularly difficult, it could suggest they lack confidence or struggle with mobility. Navigating unfamiliar hallways, staircases, and surfaces in other people’s homes may highlight new ways your senior loved one requires mobility support. Experiencing one or more falls may also be indicative of reduced mobility.
2. Changes In Eating Habits
The holidays can be a great time to assess whether your senior relative is getting proper nutrition (and if not, why this is). For example, you may notice your loved one eating much less than usual or not enjoying the traditional festive foods they have always loved. This may suggest they are experiencing a reduced appetite. Alternatively, they eat much more when served meals by family members than when they eat at home. This could indicate that while their appetite is still good, they struggle with the physical and mental aspects of purchasing groceries, preparing food, and cooking.
3. Depression and Social Isolation
Social isolation is often a vital driving factor in moving to an assisted living facility, as these communities can offer endless support and companionship. If a senior is reluctant or unable to get out to join family gatherings, they may experience social isolation, which could lead to mental health issues like depression. If your senior loved one is struggling with their mental health, it may be more evident during this festive season – particularly if they usually love the holidays. Older adults may be at an increased risk of experiencing depression, and for those with physical illnesses or limited function, this risk could be even higher.
4. Caregiver Burnout
When deciding on a senior care plan, the impact on family caregivers should always be considered. If you’re struggling to physically assist your loved one with moving around, traveling, and completing ADLs, or if you can’t find the time to juggle work and family life with your senior relative’s care, it may be worth exploring assisted living.
The demands placed on family caregivers often develop gradually, going largely unnoticed until they become overwhelming. During the holidays, take a moment to consider how you were coping this time last year compared to now. Were things about the same, or were you finding it easier to help your loved one navigate the holiday season? Were you and your parent or relative more carefree and better able to enjoy the festivities?
If you are ready to explore the doors assisted living can open for you, and your senior loved one in the new year and beyond, give us a call. We are happy to answer your questions or arrange a guided tour!