Independent living offers the flexibility of home ownership without the high price tag. However, as our loved ones age and health complications develop, there comes a point when independent living becomes hazardous. The possibility of injury may require a change of lifestyle and the need for around-the-clock care. If you cannot visit your parents every day or live far away, you should consider transferring your loved one from Independent to Assisted Living.
Assisted Living provides many of the benefits of Independent Living, including individual rooms and local amenities, with the addition of on-site health professionals who can prevent and address the changing needs of your loved one. The following indicators suggest a need for assisted living.
Inconsistent Eating and Medication Times
We all get busy from time to time and sometimes, we might skip a meal or forget to take our daily vitamins. For many seniors, skipped meals and medication times can have a significant impact on health and well-being.
Inconsistent eating can turn into malnutrition, which weakens the immune system, diminishes muscle mass, and puts seniors at risk for injuries. Though malnutrition can occur from a lack of finances and available food, seniors with malnutrition often suffer from inhibitive ailments such as dementia, depression, or a physical disability that inhibits their ability to prepare food on their own.
The National Center for Biotechnology Information found that disabilities such as “poor vision and low manual dexterity are associated with poor medication self-management. The inability to read medication labels has been associated with nonadherence to long-term medications in the elderly.”
At an Assisted Living community, on-site medical professionals have a schedule of eating and medication times for every resident. Chef-inspired meals at the cafeteria reduce the need for in-home food preparation and caretakers will administer medication at the appropriate time.
Poor Personal Hygiene
On one of your weekly visits to your parent’s apartment, you notice a distinct odor coming from the living room. You scan the area looking for the culprit only to find out that the your loved one—with soiled clothes, unkempt hair, and overgrown fingernails—has not taken a shower in over a week.
Forgetfulness, depression, or disabilities can hinder personal hygiene maintenance, putting your loved one at risk for infection. These infections include the growth of fungi and parasites on the skin, hair, and teeth. If you notice any of these develop, seek medical attention immediately. All Assisted Living communities offer personal grooming and bathing assistance to prevent these incidences. Some communities also have an on-site barbershop and hair stylist who can ensure a clean and stylish head of hair.
Unlike personal hygiene and malnutrition, which can be addressed with proper assistance and healthcare, the effects of dementia, especially Alzheimer’s, cannot be reversed.
Dementia represents an umbrella of symptoms most commonly associated with memory loss, difficulties with communication, and lack of focus. However, you can detect early stages of dementia through carefully observing your loved one’s behavior.
“Behavioral Symptoms,” published by The Alzheimer’s Association, provides a comprehensive guide on the behavioral side effects of Alzheimer’s. The article explains how some people in the early stages of the disease “may experience personality changes such as irritability, anxiety or depression.” Additional symptoms in later stages of the disease may include “sleep disturbances; agitation (physical or verbal outbursts, general emotional distress, restlessness, pacing, shredding paper or tissues, yelling); delusions (firmly held belief in things that are not real); or hallucinations (seeing, hearing or feeling things that are not there).”
These changes in behavior can impact other areas of life such as appetite, personal hygiene, and awareness of personal responsibilities (cleaning, paying bills, feeding pets).
Making the Transition
If you notice the above symptoms, look into the many benefits of Assisted Living. Many senior living communities have options for residents interested in transferring from Independent to Assisted Living. This seamless process will make it easy on your loved one, offering an extensive level of care every step of the way.