When Is It Time To Move . . .
The choice to move into assisted living is as individual as the person making the decision. There is no clear-cut, step-by-step template that tells people exactly when it is time to consider assisted living as a long-term care option. However, certain situations and signs may indicate it might be time to consider alternative living arrangements. Generally speaking, families and seniors begin to consider alternatives when it becomes difficult for the elderly family member to carry on with important activities of daily living without significant support and assistance from others. Some of the challenges elderly adults can face as they age include:
Loss of Vision: As a person ages, vision can deteriorate to the point where reading is dramatically impacted and even the ability to navigate within the household is impaired. Consequently, errors in taking medications or falls caused by failure to see objects in their paths may occur. Driving may no longer be a viable option.
Poor Balance: Many seniors can become increasingly frail and have a tendency to imbalance, putting them at risk for falls. Repeated episodes of falling or imbalance are a signal that the senior could possibly benefit from an environment constructed to minimize risk of falls.
Memory Loss; Forgetfulness: Memory loss and forgetfulness can dramatically impact the well-being and safety of an elderly person living alone. Simple matters, such as turning off the stove, become possible safety hazards if memory loss or forgetfulness becomes an issue. Management of medications, remembering when and how much to take, also becomes a risk factor.
Fatigue: The reality is that many seniors reach a point when they are no longer able to consistently care for themselves or their home. Meal preparation, home maintenance, and personal care can become overwhelming.
Loneliness: For some seniors, isolation and loneliness can become a factor. When regular interaction with others becomes infrequent, seniors can very quickly lose their sense of involvement and motivation for activity.
Dementia: When Alzheimer’s disease or dementia is diagnosed, it is often time to consider alternative care to maintain the safety and quality of life for the individual.
Physician Prescribed: At times, an elderly person’s physician will determine whether or not he/she can be left at home alone or unattended due to health conditions that require constant monitoring.
Many times the family and future resident are able to make a joint decision about when it is time to consider moving into assisted living. This type of decision-making allows for some research and time to explore the very real concerns of the older person and leads to greater satisfaction with the choices made.
The prospect of moving can be very unsettling; it requires moving from a known and seemingly secure situation to an unknown situation where seniors may worry about loss of control and independence. Families and potential residents should visit communities together to determine the type of community that best suits the elderly person’s needs.
For family members forced to make a decision for their loved one, such as in the case of Alzheimer’s disease or dementia, the burden of responsibility can seem immense. Perhaps the best advice is to follow your heart to know exactly when it is time for you and your loved one to make the transition.
Change is rarely easy for anyone. The good news is that most seniors, once they weather the upheaval of transition, report that assisted living has offered them enhanced quality of life.
Reprinted from the Assisted Living Federation of American. ALFA offers two consumer videos that address the decision to move into assisted living and the actual transition process. To order, call 1-800-258-7030 or visit the online bookstore at www.alfa.org.