One of the most difficult decisions a family must make is when an aging parent should move to assisted living. It is one of the greatest ironies in life. For the first few years of our lives, we are utterly dependent on our parents. In their older years, our parents grow more and more dependent on us. One of the challenges we face as adult children is helping our parents make some difficult decisions as they grapple with old age. For example, when should Mom or Dad transition from independent to assisted living?
Adult children who live with or near their aging parents may find it easier to help them make this decision than those who seldom see their moms or dads. In either case, there are some clues that it may be time for an older parent to transition to assisted living. Let us talk about some red flags that adult children can look for.
One red flag may be a change in self-care. Noticeable changes in self-care may be indicators that it may be time to start discussing a move to assisted living. This could be the case if an aging parent is having trouble with:
- Eating healthy meals that provide adequate nutrition on a regular basis
- Preparing meals
- Grocery shopping
- Personal hygiene
- Proper use of prescription and over the counter medication
- Indoor and outdoor maintenance
If there are concerns for your parents’ safety, then this may also be a red flag.. Do not be surprised if your aging parents are reluctant to relinquish their independence. This could be due to pride, denial, sheer stubbornness, or some combination thereof. In any case, the reluctance to acknowledge certain changes may put them in harm’s way. Try to find a diplomatic way to broach the topic of assisted living if an older parent:
- Is still driving and there is unexplained damage to his or her car.
- Feels intimidated or overwhelmed when using household appliances.
- Has not equipped their home for aging in place or has not asked for help equipping it for aging in place.
- Forgets to turn off the stove after using it.
- Does not have a personal alert system or emergency plan.
Be mindful of any evidence of isolation, loneliness, and other mental health issues as this can also be a big red flag. Sadly, adults often grapple with isolation, loneliness, depression, and other mental health issues as they age. All too often, they do so in silence. An older parent may benefit from a move to an assisted living facility if he or she:
- No longer participates in hobbies or activities he or she once enjoyed
- No longer has friends or relatives nearby
- No longer seems as energetic or enthusiastic about life as he or she once did
In some cases, an older adult may want professional advice from a neutral third party before transitioning to an assisted living facility. In that case, speaking with an experienced elder law attorney may be helpful. In these discussions, we can help older adults understand the challenges associated with this transition. Contact our law office for more information about how we can help.