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How to Know When It's Time For Assisted Living

For many seniors, being able to live independently is viewed with a sense of pride. Those who have maintained their ability to drive, take care of their home, and continued with outside interests often have an increased feeling of self-worth.


When a senior has always been independent, active, and healthy, it can be easy to overlook the hints that could suggest a decline in abilities. The following signs are indications that the daily habits and independence level of a loved one are changing, and that the time is coming when they may need your help.


Recognizing the Signs an Older Loved One Needs Help

Here are a few common warning signs:

Mobility Problems

Signs that indicate decreased mobility may include:


  • Shuffling instead of walking

  • Walking slower

  • Reduced balance

  • Falling

  • Observed bruising

  • Reluctance to walk even a short distance.


Safety and Seniors

 Senior safety at home is diminished when a loved one is unable to appropriately respond in situations that could result in an emergency such as:


  • Turning on but not turning off household items such as an iron or coffee pot

  • Lighting but forgetting to extinguish candles

  • Starting to cook, but forgetting to turn off the stove


Driving abilities can be hampered by a loss of skills and slower reflexes. If your parent was once a stellar driver, but is now being issued parking or driving tickets, is involved in accidents, or there are unexplained damages to their vehicle, it may be time for them to hang up the keys.


Personal Care

Signs that could indicate that a senior is having difficulty keeping up with their daily routine include trouble with basic tasks such as:

  • Meals

    • Not eating properly - may result in loss or gain of weight

    • Expired foods in the refrigerator and cupboards

    • Cooks their meal, but forgets to eat it 

  • Hygiene

    • Forgetting to:

      • Shower or bathe

      • Shave

      • Brush teeth

      • Clean dentures

    • Incontinence issues

  • Clothing

    • Wearing the same clothing repeatedly

    • Dressing inappropriately for the time of day or season of the year

    • Clothing not washed or clean

    • Difficulty dressing themselves

    • Mismatched clothing

    • Buttons not fastened, zippers unzipped


  • Medication Management

    • Not taking medications as prescribed and/or forgetting them altogether

    • Not knowing the medications they are supposed to take or why they need to take them

Household Care and Finances

A few other issues to look for are:

  • Is the house as neat and tidy as in the past?

  • Is the yard being taken are of?

  • Is the garbage being removed from the house properly?

  • Are the pots, pans, glasses, and dishes being cleaned?

  • If there are pets in the home, are they being taken care of correctly, and are they being cleaned up after?

  • Are there any issues in the home that need repaired/replaced? Is there a plan to take care of them?

  • Are the bills being paid on time?

  • Are there any extreme changes with finances that should be questioned?


Change in Personality

 A noticeable indication that a loved needs extra support may appear through personality changes; almost as if the family member does not seem to be the same person they were before. They may appear lonely or depressed, and exhibit behaviors such as:

  • Giving up on hobbies or outside interests

  • Withdrawing from friends and family

  • Not wanting to leave the house

  • Not participating in conversations

  • Over reacting, confusion, anger or aggression.


Knowing what to watch for will help to keep a loved one safe. While no one wants to have to make the decision to move an aging parent out of their home, there may come a time when that choice is in their best interest.


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