How You Know it’s Time for Assisted Living

How You Know it’s Time for Assisted Living

Knowing when you need to consider assisted living is a difficult decision for any person to face. However, it’s often a matter of loved ones being in the position to identify when a move needs to be made. Roles are often reversed with adult children taking on the position of caregiver. Knowing when assisted living is now required can feel like a complex and overwhelming decision.

As Somerset assisted living providers, we see this situation play out time and again, in various different ways. There are some common signs that can help you realise that it’s time for assisted living to be considered.

The Obvious Signs

It is unlikely to be much consolation, and resistance can still be met, but there are some obvious signs that assisted living is needed for your relative.

  • Falls and injuries: If your relative has fallen and been injured, it may be clear that independent living is no longer a safe option. Hospital may also only discharge an elderly person if they believe their care arrangements to be suitable. This can push the issue.
  • Close calls: Not quite as clear cut, but frequent ‘close calls’ where an individual is repeatedly having difficulties can signal the time for a move.

Other ‘Big’ Factors

Whilst not as obvious as the signs above, there are other notable factors which make the decision regarding assisted living impossible to avoid.

  • Delayed or slow recovery: If your loved one is taking longer to recover from common illnesses or injury, you may need to consider assisted living for the future. This may become particularly apparent during the winter months.
  • Worsening health: It may be a case that your relative has lived with a chronic health condition for many years and has managed their condition ably. If your relative with a chronic condition is now struggling with their treatment, medication or daily living as a result of their condition, it is now time to look at other options for their wellbeing. This is particularly true with dementia patients. It can be beneficial to move dementia sufferers sooner rather than later to make the transition easier.
  • Difficulties with daily tasks: Independent living requires a multitude of repeated tasks done easily and reliably. When an individual is struggling to manage these tasks safely and repeatedly, they will need help. These tasks include dressing, cooking, managing medication, and basic housekeeping.

Gradual Signs to Look Out For

When you care for and see someone regularly, it can be difficult to spot a gradual decline in their ability to live independently. Therefore, try to view your loved one from an impartial viewpoint or ask someone who doesn’t see them so frequently for their thoughts. The gradual signs that further help is needed are:

  • Notable frailty: Unsteadiness on their feet, weakness, problems with balance and exhaustion when performing basic tasks, as well as difficulty moving, can be signs that living independently will soon pose great difficulties.
  • Weight changes: Notable weight loss can be a sign that your loved one is struggling to prepare or take adequate nutrition. There are likely to be both practical and emotional reasons for this. Conversely, unusual weight gain can be an indication that they are struggling to manage conditions such as diabetes or depression, or that their dementia is causing them to forget whether they have already eaten.
  • Personal hygiene and appearance: Considering an individual’s ability to maintain personal hygiene and appearance can present signs that they need more help. They may have difficulties washing or bathing, doing their own laundry, or completing parts of their former routine.

Community and Social Signs

It is very easy for an elderly, infirm or frail individual to gradually slip out of their active community life and social network. It’s important for loved ones to be aware of important signs by asking the following questions:

  • Do they have friends who visit or they spend time with?

Social connections are vital. Does your relative still meet with their friends and engage with a social life? Have many of their friends moved away or passed on?

  • Do they engage with their former interests and activities?

Do they keep up a hobby? Do they show an interest in the things and opportunities around them?

  • Do they spend whole days stuck in the house?

Obviously occasionally or intentionally, this is fine. However, is your relative avoiding leaving the house out of fear of falling, or because they find travel overwhelming? Assisted living, such as our Somerset assisted living provision, will actually provide more stimulation and opportunity for socialisation due to the secure environment and care in place, along with organised activities.

  • Do they have someone checking on them regularly?
  • Can they understand, and act on, plans for an emergency?

For example, if there was a fire in the home, would they be able to cope?

Financial and Administrative Signs

Sometimes the clearest evidence that an elderly person isn’t coping with independent living is in their money management and life admin tasks. You should look out for:

  • Post: Is it building up and left unopened, or disorganised?
  • Bills: Are bills being paid appropriately and on time? Is insurance being renewed as required?
  • Scams: Unfortunately, many elderly people are prime targets for scammers. Is your loved one falling victim to scams because they are unable to understand or remember important information?

Signs within the Home

It can be useful to look beyond the individual themselves and look at how they are managing and maintaining their living environment. There are some key signs you should look for:

  • Bathroom use: Are there signs that the bath/shower is being regularly used? Is there evidence that they are meeting their personal care requirements?
  • Kitchen safety: Are appliances and implements stored safely? Are knives and other sharp objects in safe places? Are any items in unusual places? Are the electrics safe?
  • Kitchen hygiene: Is the kitchen clean and ordered? Are foods within date, both in the cupboards and the fridge? Is fresh food present and stored appropriately?
  • Kitchen order: Are there multiple numbers of one item indicating that the individual is struggling to remember what they have in stock when shopping?
  • Living spaces: Are the living areas cluttered with items not put away? Is clutter becoming a tripping hazard? Have spills been cleaned up and daily dirt cleaned? Are plants watered? Are pets well cared for?

In addition to these housekeeping tasks, there are also house maintenance tasks which if left can become signs that assisted living may be a sensible step. It’s worth considering whether your loved one is noticing deterioration in their property and taking steps to maintain it.

When to Seek Help Spotting the Signs

Given the difficulty of making decisions regarding an elderly loved one, it can be useful and reassuring to have help making the decision.

Speak to friends and family and garner their opinion. This will help you build a bigger picture. You may discover that friendships you thought were active have fallen by the wayside, or they are failing to turn up to previously enjoyed activities.

You can also encourage your loved one to visit their GP, perhaps with you with them. They can give their input on how your relative is managing their health and any chronic conditions.

If your relative has a carer, or even a cleaner or gardener, it can be beneficial to get their input. They will likely see things you don’t. If it transpires that you each think the other is doing something they aren’t, then this is an indication that your relative isn’t coping.

In the UK your relative, regardless of income, is entitled to a care assessment. This is carried out by your local adult social services department. At the assessment the assessor knows what signs to look for that your loved one needs more help. They will help determine the level of care your family member needs.

Signs in Yourself

Often ignored, but if you’re the primary carer for your loved one, then take an honest appraisal of how you are coping? Sometimes care needs are manageable for a period, but not indefinitely. Are you struggling with exhaustion, low mood or irritability? Assisted living can help you and your loved one to regain a loving relationship unhindered by care needs.

Assisted living is available in different levels from sheltered accommodation to care homes to nursing care. At our Somerset assisted living properties, we enable individuals to thrive and manage daily living with support and care. This takes the pressure off families too. Find out more by calling 01769 573166.