Updated: Jul 20
How to know when its time to consider a facility for a loved one
The care for the elderly is a measure of a healthy and vibrant society, and it is also one of the most challenging responsibilities we confront as our loved ones continue to age. Medical advances continue to help people to live longer and healthier lives, but there may come a time when your loved one is unable to adequately care for himself or herself on a daily basis. It is extremely emotionally exhausting to see a loved one who can no longer care for themselves, especially if they were the one who cared for you throughout your childhood. When it comes to conversations about care and independence many families and the elderly will avoid the topic. It's vital to understand that there may come a point when you are limited in helping your loved one remain independent at home. If this time comes, it will be time to assess the sort of extra care your loved one may need and design a senior care plan. We share with you some signs and answer some questions that may help you to determine if assistance and extra care might be a better and more viable option so that your elderly loved ones can remain healthy and happy as they age.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) determined that 21% of adults aged 85 and older need personal care assistance. The question for many family members is exactly how to determine how much additional care is needed and when is it time to look for outside assistance. Many professionals will chart senior activities of daily living (ADLs) to measure the level of care a senior may need. There are six categories of ADLs: bathing, dressing, toileting, transferring, continence, and feeding. A one is awarded in each category that can be completed independently. With a score of five out of six, the senior has a relatively easy time completing the basic functions of life. On the opposite side of the tally, if a senior scores a one or two out of six, it’s clear that he or she needs additional care and support, and thus will need a type of senior care that is more hands-on.
5 Questions to Consider Regarding Senior Care:
Has your loved one’s independence had a noticeable decline?
Aside from the ADLs, there are three areas that can help you to assess the independence of your loved one.
Poor grooming habits can be one of the first noticeable signs that an alternative care plan might be needed for your loved one. It can come about for various reasons whether it be a decline in capability or a lack of motivation. As seniors advance in age, they can become frailer and find difficulty with once easy everyday tasks like bathing and proper hygiene.
As our loved one's age, they often require daily medications to maintain their health and longevity. For a large majority of family caregivers, issues with medication management are the precipitating cause to seek out assisted living options for their loved ones. The CDC attributes nearly 350,000 hospitalizations every year due to personal medication errors. Everyone forgets to take their medication at some point, and there are systems in place to prevent this, but repetitive forgotten dosages can become an alarming concern for seniors.
For many aging seniors, it becomes harder to effectively maintain financial responsibilities. There can be several mitigating factors that contribute to poor financial health in the elderly. A decrease in motivation, a decline in vision, limited physical ability due to things like arthritis, loss of a partner who handled the monetary responsibilities, and deterioration of cognitive abilities that require handling complex numbers possibly due to dementia or Alzheimer's. All of these factors can contribute to struggles when managing household bills, insurance, and handling taxes. In addition to regular financial responsibilities, seniors are at risk of falling prey to financial scammers. These cons and deceptions whether from family or strangers can bring financial despair and prevent them from taking care of themselves financially. There are some telling signs that it might be time to offer assistance with financial responsibilities. Missing or hard-to-find bank statements and checkbooks, stacks of unopened mail, scattered papers, and bills piled are things to look for.
Do you think your loved one is dealing with stress that could be remedied by a reduction in daily house maintenance and increasing social opportunities?
It is important to note and understand that stress in the elderly can very quickly lead to a decline in health.
As seniors age, the monotonous and tedious tasks of home become harder for them to maintain. Once menial tasks become difficult to complete, the inability to complete the household chores adds to a feeling of overwhelming stress as the incomplete to-do list continues to pile up. Physical ability may limit the ability to complete what were once simple tasks around the house and lead to feelings of inadequacy and stress. In long-term care facilities, seniors can expect services like vacuuming, dusting, laundry, bathroom cleaning, and general home maintenance like replacing air filters.
There is no denying that spending time with friends can boost our moods and decrease stress that may have settled due to a lack of social interaction. With more than 10 million seniors living alone, there are numerous health issues that are clearly connected to the isolation of seniors. Depression increases because many seniors have a lost sense of purpose or lack a sense of community. Depression in the elderly leads to or exacerbates dementia and heart disease. Sadly, seniors who are alone can turn to addictive behaviors such as drinking, smoking, and prescription drugs as a means to cope with the isolation. Even more concerning, the stress of isolation is directly correlated to a seniors' mortality rate.
If your loved one is showing signs of increased stress and depression, it might be time to consider assisted living as an option. At an assisted living facility your loved one can expect to be involved in activities that create and develop purpose and community. Many facilities offer a range of daily activities to encourage social interaction with their residents such as fitness classes, happy hours, movie and game nights, and many more.
Do you or your loved one’s primary care provider believe they would be healthier and happier with additional care coordination that can be offered at an assisted living facility?
According to the American Association of Retired Persons (AARP), more than 70 million people over the age of 50 have at least one chronic medical condition. Two common chronic conditions for this age group are Heart disease and Alzheimer's disease. As seniors age, the conditions will continue to progress and need more medical attention.
Individuals with dementia will become more aggressive as the disease advances. When aggressive behavior settles in it may be time to find a safe place for your loved one where trained professionals know how to deal with these behaviors.
Medical emergencies also increase with age. Falls are the most common type of medical emergency seen in the elderly. Nearly 1/3 of seniors will have a fall this year alone, and the death rate for falls has significantly risen in the last ten years. The home can become a dangerous place with many tripping hazards as your loved one ages and loses agility. If you are concerned for the health and well-being of your loved one, there are facilities staffed and equipped to meet their medical needs.
Does your senior family member consume a well-balanced diet to keep them healthy and independent?
When assessing if it is time to consider alternative care for aging seniors, their nutrition should be considered. Many seniors no longer purchase groceries, whether it is due to a lack of desire or the ability to drive to the store. Seniors no longer cook as they age and find little reason to prepare a large meal for one. The lack of well-rounded cooked meals will have a negative impact on a senior's health. Without appetizing and cooked meals, the loved one may drop healthy eating habits and skip meals altogether. This unhealthy path will lead to a decline in the physical and mental health of your loved one.
If your loved one's fridge is stocked with old expired food, is sparse, or houses lots of leftovers, these may be warning signals that your loved one is not eating healthy full meals or consuming enough nutrition to keep their body functioning on a healthy level.
Long-term care and assisted living facilities provide regular nutritious meals three times daily and are sure to meet specific dietary needs. Fresh fruit and healthy snacks are available throughout the day as well as weekly menus shared in advance. The added bonus for the seniors is that the dining hall provides them with social interaction and conversations over their meals.
Are your mental and physical health suffering as you continue to provide long-term care for an aging loved one?
It is a noble promise to be a caregiver to an elderly family member with the promise that they can stay in the home they know and love. Most people who make this decision do so with the best intentions, but things do not always go according to plan. many are not fully capable of overcoming the burdensome physical and emotional demands that come with being a full-time caregiver for your loved one. When these pitfalls arise many caregivers are overcome with guilt and grief for even considering a facility for their loved one. It is important to recognize that sometimes a new course will be the best for your loved one and yourself.
Many well-intentioned family members fail to see the hidden costs that accumulate by being a caregiver at home. There are often significant amounts of lost income due to having to take time from work, hiring daytime help, and other expenses to outfit the home to be safe with ramps, wheelchairs, and grab bars.
It is vital that you are practical and truthful with yourself with regard to the expectations you place on yourself when it comes to being the caregiver of your elderly loved one. You might not realize that you have reached the point of giving all you can and are on the short road to major burnout and breakdown.
Unfortunately, many caregivers fail to see the signs of their own exhaustion and burnout. This is where other family members and friends may serve as accountability partners in preserving your mental and emotional wellbeing in these circumstances. (daddy quote)
Before the pressures pile and build, consider a proactive path to seek out qualified, compassionate care for your loved one. Taking this step will help you to keep your connection with your elderly loved one with the stress of ongoing care threatening to foster resentment and hostility.
Everyone wants to spend their last years in their own home, and it may be difficult to accept that this may not be feasible. Admitting that a loved one needs more care is challenging; even more difficult than that may be admitting that you are unable to provide the necessary assistance and care.
Discuss your worries openly with your aging family member. Initiate a conversation about their safety, health, and pleasure as they approach the later stage of their lives. When the time comes to seek assisted living homes, know that there are attractive, secure facilities with loving staff and well-trained specialists waiting to meet with you.
A move to assisted living doesn't have to mean the end of living. It can be the beginning of a new and active life with others. Schedule a tour with us at Blakey Hall to learn more about how we can support you at this difficult time.