Starting the conversation about senior care is never easy. Change introduces many unknowns, and if you are responsible for making decisions about your parent’s well-being, you will undoubtedly feel the pressure to “do the right thing.”
Fortunately, you can look for signs and patterns that point to the need for considering senior care so you don’t feel like you’re reaching in the dark. Here are a few indicators that you may have reached the right time.
You’ve Reached Your Limit
If you’ve been your parent’s primary caretaker and feel yourself reaching the breaking point, it’s time to consider different options. Many caregivers are “sandwiched” between meeting the needs of their parents and children at once, in addition to working, managing a household, and taking care of their own health issues. If the stress of caring for a parent with increasing health needs—whether they live with you or require frequent help in their own home—has begun to affect your ability to function healthily, it’s time to consider help. Taking care of your own needs is not selfish; if you burn out, you will not be able to help anyone.
Living Alone is No Longer Safe
Is your parent living alone or going for long periods of time without close supervision? Keep your eyes open for warning signs that living alone is no longer a safe option:
They forget about their medical needs
If your parent takes daily medication to manage a chronic health condition, they can be at risk for taking the wrong dose, overdosing, or forgetting their medication altogether. Crucial doctors’ appointments may also go unscheduled or forgotten, putting your parent at greater risk for serious health problems.
They fall behind in their housekeeping
Have you noticed your parent’s house declining in its cleanliness and organization? Are items starting to pile up, creating tripping hazards? Are kitchen and bathroom areas showing high levels of grime and poor sanitation? Your parent may be lacking the eyesight, physical strength, memory, or will to continue with daily chores, indicating the need for assistance in these areas.They show signs of poor nutrition
If your mom or dad has lost or gained a significant amount of weight, consider how they are managing their diet. Often seniors with dementia or other health challenges will forget to eat daily meals or struggle with preparing their own food. Common kitchen tools and appliances may present safety risks if your parent’s eyesight or strength is declining, so they may choose to forgo eating or depend on processed foods and frozen dinners, increasing their intakes of calories and sodium.
They fall into financial trouble
Lapses in memory or failure to collect and organize the mail can result in unpaid bills. Your parent may forget how to write a check or balance the checkbook, resulting in a cycle of late fees, distressing letters, or calls from banks and creditors. Scammers also prey on the elderly, convincing them to invest in items or contribute to fake charities with repeated requests.
Your Parent is Experiencing Social isolation
If your parent is no longer participating in social activities they used to enjoy, opting instead to stay shut in the house with the television, they may be at risk for serious depression. Lack of reliable transportation, fatigue, or embarrassment about health problems may all lead to social isolation at a time of life when rich interpersonal connections are needed the most.
Deciding to seek out long-term care for your parent can feel emotionally overwhelming at first, especially in the first stages of the conversation. However, by exploring options now, you and your parent will gain the peace of mind that there will be people to care for them, a safe and healthy environment, and opportunities to make rich interpersonal connections. In fact, for many seniors, assisted living increases their sense of freedom and independence. And for you as the caregiver? You can begin to focus on being a son or daughter again as you find more time and energy to pour into your relationship.
One of the best ways to help your parent (and yourself) find the peace of mind about senior care is touring a community in person. Contact Us