Assisted living can be a wonderful option for an elderly loved one in your family. This isn’t just good for them when it comes to leading a fulfilled, vibrant life amid their peers, but is also important for you as a caregiver or a potential caregiver of a senior. When should you consider assisted living for a parent, aged relative or even a friend? Consider this from the point of view of your loved one as well as from your own perspective as a caregiver.
A common mistake you can avoid.
The decision to move to assisted living is often left until too late. People tend not to think about moving to assisted living until their loved one has had a fall, become ill or infirm. This is a mistake because the move to assisted living now becomes imperative and the choice may have to be made in a hurry. The stress of an illness, possibly a stint at the hospital leaves little time to make a fully informed, properly considered decision about assisted living. At such a time, one may make a decision based only on a few criteria such as location and proximity to home, and perhaps the cost factor. There may not be time to consider other aspects such as the size/capacity of the facility, the number and qualifications of the caregivers, the kind of activities that are on offer. When a decision is made in a hurry, one doesn’t have time to make a truly informed choice after considering several options.
Plus, when a senior has just recovered from a fall or injury, or is otherwise infirm, they will be unable to enjoy their time with a like-minded community to the fullest. They may be restricted from taking part in the full range of indoor and outdoor activities that assisted living facilities organize for their residents in Tucson. They might be missing out on what could have been fun times in the golden years of their life.
Warning signs or clues to look out for.
As a son, daughter, relative or friend you need to be vigilant in spotting any of the clues that could indicate the need for a move to an assisted living facility. Look out for any changes each time that you visit or that your loved one visits you. These may indicate that your loved one needs help and companionship; that they cannot manage on their own any longer:
- You may notice a change in their gait, posture or the way that they move and react physically.
- There could be a new slowness in the way that they respond to a situation or to a question.
- There may be instances when they forget to take their medication.
- There are bills pending and the upkeep of the house seems to have suffered in recent times.
- Your loved one seems to frequently forget things and not just where they kept their keys. They now seem to be forgetting familiar names, road directions and so on…
- They are hesitant about driving, going out or traveling alone.
- They don’t seem to be taking good care of themselves. This could include missing meals, not drinking enough water, not being up to the task of regular cooking, or letting their grooming slide.
- If your loved one seems to be avoiding going out and socializing, this may also be a warning sign.
- They may have mood swings or display erratic behavior. They may display unreasonable anger or aggression and may even become paranoid and fearful.
- Their home is not ideally suited to them. There may be stairs that are now difficult to climb, bathrooms that increase risk of falling, and a house that is difficult and taxing to look after.
Examine your own feelings and don’t forget about self-care.
If you have noticed any such changes, you are probably already experiencing a sense of dread or apprehension about the future and the wellbeing of your loved one. You’re probably wondering whether they can manage on their own and are constantly worried about falls, accidents or illnesses. While it is best to opt for assisted living before any of these signs manifest themselves, this is not always possible. Now that living alone seems impractical and unsafe for your loved one, moving to assisted living becomes imperative. This decision will give you peace of mind. It will mean that your loved one is safer, well cared for and supervised.
Watching a loved one age before one’s eyes; seeing them become weaker and less able can take a big toll on the people around as well. As a son, daughter or relative of a loved one, you may not give adequate thought to your own feelings and wellbeing. The constant worry, frequent visits and close supervision can take a toll on you. There is evidence to show that the emotional pressure of caregiving is much like the effects of PTSD. There is physical effort and the mental stress involved in looking after a loved one. There may be constant worry and anxiety, a feeling of helplessness, intrusive thoughts, avoidance behaviors and hyper-vigilance. Ask yourself if you are ready for this? If your own health is at risk if you decide to care for a senior yourself?
To decide whether it’s time to move a loved one into assisted living, take a holistic view of your situation. Explore various assisted living options. Examine practically the physical aspects of the home, signs and symptoms your loved one displays. Also pay attention to your own feelings and how you, your family and professional life are being affected by the situation.
Your parents were always there for you, to make the right decisions for your life when you were young. Now it’s your turn to help them step into a life of care, support and friendship. Help them settle into the golden age of their life among like-minded peers, doing the things they love doing while being well looked after. And do this before it’s too late. Call (520) 622- 8416 to get more information.