Are you experiencing that cloud of worry about the well being of your mother or father living on their own? Do you get nervous about their safety every time you leave town? Anxious when they don't pick up the phone?
Below are 8 signs it may be time for your parents to move into senior housing, whether it be a retirement community, seniors residence, assisted living or a nursing home.
Signs Your Parents Should Move Into Senior Housing
1. Missed Medications
Does your mother have difficulty taking her medications, despite pill organizers, medication reminders and / or medication dispensers? At some point, despite all the help provided, it may be too difficult for your mother to take the correct pills, in the correct dosages at the right times on her own. If you can't hire someone to administer her pills, a seniors home that manages medications (not all do), might be worth looking into.
2. Frequent Falling
Is your mother or father falling more frequently? Unfortunately, the strongest predictor of your parents experiencing another fall, is a previous fall. So once it starts, it tends to continue, unless something changes. If, despite all your efforts to fall-proof their home, (grab bars, slip proof mats, hand rails on stairs, lighting, etc.), they're still falling, then perhaps it's time to consider a safer environment. Remember, a medical alert system won't prevent a fall, it will only get help faster in the event of a fall.
3. Poor Hygiene
Have you noticed an odor in your parents apartment? Are their clothes soiled? Are they able to shower or bathe and clean themselves properly on their own? Are you noticing any boils or skin blemishes? If your mother or father are unable to take care of their personal hygiene, and they're not in a position to hire a personal caregiver to attend to those needs, an assisted living community may be an alternative.
4. Isolation or Loneliness
As our parents age and they outlive their spouses or friends, or are unable to leave their homes on their own to go to the library, gym, restaurant, senior center or friends houses, it's easy for them to become isolated and lonely. For many, the opportunity to move into a well managed, lively, seniors residence and make new friends, have communal meals and take part in a roster of daily activities can be a godsend.
5. Memory Impairment
Not everyone who experiences memory impairment needs to move in to a seniors home. However, at that point where your mother or father become a danger to themselves, others or their property it may be time. Examples might include forgetting to turn off the stove or water tap, forgetting to eat or to take their meds, wandering, inability to call for help, poor judgement, missing important appointments, etc...
6. Poorly Managed Finances
Managing one's home can be difficult for the best of us. For some older adults paying one's taxes, condo fees, rent, mortgage, phone, heating and electricity can be overwhelming. For others, managing the upkeep of a home (repairs, maintenance, etc...) can expose them to becoming exploited or taken advantage of. If you're seeing bills stacking up, missed payments, notices, calls from creditors, over payment for work or unnecessary work, it may be a sign managing one's own home has become too much.
7. Poor Nutrition
Getting three healthy meals a day is important. If your parents find it difficult to go grocery shopping, or prepare meals, they may need assistance. Or, perhaps, you're noticing that their food is going bad in the fridge, which means they're not eating properly, despite the availability of food. This could be a sign of depression, anxiety, infection or impaired memory.
8. Increasingly Frequent Calls For Assistance
Most of us love to help our parents where we can, whether it's changing a light bulb, shoveling the walkway, or unclogging a drain. But at some point if the frequency or nature of the calls become so frequent, and the tasks so routine, their making it difficult to manage your own responsibilities, it may be easier for everyone if your mother or father moved into their own home. For example, if you have to go to their home to get the sugar from the upper shelf one day, get the TV remote working the next, open a jar of jam the next, rest the washing machine, etc...
Everyone has their own circumstance, which will determine your enthusiasm, willingness or ability to help your mother or father stay in their home or move in to a seniors residence. Whether you work, live in another city, have your own family, have a good relationship, have the income, live in a rural or urban environment, can all play a role in your decision making. Hopefully, the signs above help make your decision easier.