As older adults age, maintaining a home and lifestyle can become challenging. If perhaps you are one of the millions of Americans that are also a working caregiver for a loved one, this becomes challenging for you as well.
At some point, it will be time to find a long-term solution for senior care. Knowing the signs and having a conversation is the first step. Including your loved one in the process can make the transition much easier. When the moment is right, keep the tone light and let your loved ones know that you are genuinely interested in their well-being. Inquire about how they are feeling on a daily, weekly, monthly basis. Encourage them to be honest with you and themselves. This conversation can serve as a segway into senior living options that can enhance their quality of life. As for the right time to have this conversation, a keen eye observing the telltale signs can help find the answers you need. We have compiled a general overview that can prepare you to make the best decision for your family.
Home Maintenance – Look around the home and take note of the tidiness, cleanliness and proper disposal of dishes, laundry, trash and leftover food. Is everything where it needs to be? Also, look at the plants – are they well kept? Over time, these daily chores can become a big burden or forgotten by aging adults.
Unpaid Bills – See if the mail has made its way from the mailbox into the home. Are the bills being paid, sorted and filed? Also, note if the mail includes any collection notices. Tasks such as bill paying require a considerable amount of recollection and can be daunting or if a few pieces to the puzzle are missing – like a bank account number or payment address.
Hygiene Practices – A big hug can lovingly provide some clues into their hygiene habits. Does it seem like they have missed a few showers, lacking in good grooming or hygiene habits? Are they safe showering or shaving alone? Showering can be an intimidating task depending on the type of facilities they are using at home (a tall tub to maneuver) as well as the fear of slipping.
Signs of Weight Loss – A reduction in weight can mean a number of things, but first, check to see if they are eating enough and getting proper nutrition. Are they cooking for themselves or getting fast food every day? Also, note a possible vitamin deficiency. Is frailness a concern or possibility of a bone fracture?
Safety is an Issue – Take an evaluation around the home to see if there are any potential safety concerns – such as getting up and down the stairs or accidents from dangerous household items such as kitchen knives.
Loss of Memory – Do your loved ones have a good memory like they once did? Having conversations or asking questions repeatedly and forgetting important dates like appointments or birthdays can be a red flag of dementia (link to dementia). Pay attention to the little things, for instance, if they forget how to cook their favorite meals, put their food away or tidy up living spaces.
Their Demeanor – Keep an eye out for any mild changes in their emotional state. Notice how they react to unexpected changes throughout the day. Do they often get disappointed, irritated, or sad, over any changes in their routine? Is there a possibility your once docile loved one could harm themselves or someone else?
Wandering – A wandering loved one is something to observe. If wandering gets to the point he or she becomes confused or lost, then it becomes a safety issue.
Companionship – Everyone needs a social outlet. For seniors, it is even more critical if they have recently lost a spouse or child. How are their social skills and needs? Are they neglecting friends or craving more and more attention? Their involvement in social functions is also important to note – are they eager to leave the house, stay in touch with friends, attend church or social functions. A good reference is just taking a step back and seeing if they are happy.
The Caregiver Needs Help – Caretaking duties for an aging adult are hard on an already hectic life. Working Caregivers (link to working caregiver article) need to take some time to think through realistic commitments. Some of the first areas of decline for a working caregiver would be career and/or health. Providing the best for our seniors is a priority, but it is also important to take care of your own life as well.
Discussing Senior Housing Options
Finding the best Senior Housing solution for your family is dependent on a variety of factors. The above markers are only a few examples. When you feel it is time to have a serious discussion with your loved one, keep the conversation kind and compassionate. A great strategy is to remind them that ‘home’ is a state of mind rather than a structure. Happiness can be created and grow wherever he/she decides to live. Discuss some of the positive and appealing aspects of moving, such as new hobbies (“haven’t you always wanted to learn how to XYZ?” or the possibility of making new friends that have the same interests. The more positive the experience is during this transition, the better everyone will be after they are settled into their new home.
When the time is right for your family, a helpful first step would be to consult a professional. At Oasis Senior Advisors, we care about making this transition as stress-free as possible. Each of our local, certified advisors has a wealth of knowledge and resources regarding the skilled nursing care centers, retirement communities, assisted living facilities, and memory care environments in the area. No matter the circumstances that have prompted your search, from Alzheimer’s disease to dementia to mobility issues, our caring advisors provide you with valuable information relevant to your situation. Following an in-depth discussion in which we learn more about your unique needs, we dedicate ourselves to finding you an ideal new living arrangement. We work with you and your family to find the best solution possible, and our services are always free. Because the Right Place means Everything™ at Oasis Senior Advisors.