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When Do You Know It’s Time for Assisted Living?

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An older woman with a walker, looking out a window in an assisted living home.

When Do You Know It’s Time for Assisted Living?

Knowing when it’s time to transition to assisted living can be a difficult thing to gauge. You may be entering the golden era yourself or be helping a loved one live more comfortably. Either way, the decision can be tough.

Some signs and lifestyle patterns signal that assisted living is the right choice for a senior. Recognizing the right moment to consider a change of living is incredibly important. Ensuring that the special seniors in your life have the right support in their daily routines is vital to their quality of life. 

Assisted living can make life easier for both a senior and their support community. Let’s discuss which behaviors indicate that senior assisted living might be the right choice. And one of the best ways to feel better about your decision is to schedule a tour with Bentley Commons at Lynchburg.

Measuring Daily Behaviors

There are some basic routines that all adults need to perform to be independent. These are the types of activities we take for granted when we are young and with sound, healthy, minds. Things like hopping out of bed and whipping up a meal can become very difficult for a senior to complete as they age.

One of the primary methods in identifying whether a senior can benefit from assisted living is evaluating their daily behaviors. Observing the normal daily tasks they can do alone gives us clues. 

Family members and friends may be currently helping with these tasks each day or week. Assisted living provides reliable, safe support for a senior in need. Seniors’ communities offer a team of caregivers who are committed full-time. This takes the burden off family, friends, and neighbors who may be balancing their support with jobs and other daily matters.

The healthcare community has developed some scales to evaluate a person’s abilities to live normally as they age. Understanding these scales can help you make a confident decision about a transition to assisted living.

Activities of Daily Living

American physician Sidney Katz developed the Index of Independence of Activities for Daily Living (ALDs). This index outlines the 6 essential activities of daily living. These activities should be measured (can the person complete them alone?) when evaluating a senior’s capacity to live unassisted day-to-day. The activities are as follows:

  • Feeding: the ability to purchase or prepare food and eat regularly
  • Dressing: the ability to select practical clothing and put it on
  • Personal Hygiene: keeping up with bathing, grooming, and dental hygiene
  • Continence: being able to control bladder and bowel functions
  • Toileting: being able to get to and use a toilet appropriately, including cleaning procedures
  • Ambulating: the ability to get in and out of bed and move freely during the day

When a senior has difficulty doing any of these activities consistently and independently, it’s time to consider a community living space.

A group of senior citizens and nurses playing different instruments as a group activity.

Instrumental Activities Of Daily Living

More complex actions we take each day are called Instrumental Activities of Daily Living (IALDs). These tasks are numerous and require cognitive thinking and problem-solving skills. IALDs are a practical measure of someone’s ability to function independently throughout their week.

As seniors age, it’s important they complete these instrumental tasks. Assisted living is an answer for people who require support to accomplish the following:

  • Communication: an ability to manage and use the telephone, email, and messaging apps and communicate effectively face to face.
  • Transportation: being able to drive or arrange alternate methods of transport to places away from the home.
  • Meals & Shopping: the ability to shop for groceries and prepare a meal or order food to be delivered. This includes shopping for household goods too, such as toilet paper.
  • Housekeeping: maintaining a home and keeping living quarters reasonably clean and tidy. Cleaning eating areas and washrooms consistently.
  • Managing Medications: an ability to acquire necessary medications and consistently consume them responsibly.
  • Financial Management: the capability to pay bills, organize finances, and manage financial assets.  

Evaluating a Senior’s Lifestyle

So what are the real-world signs that it’s time for assisted living? You might not always be around the seniors in your life and may be unable to observe every ALD. But evaluating a senior’s life makes it easier to determine if an assisted living community can benefit them.

If you are a person considering assisted living, try answering these questions honestly. If your loved one is displaying changes in behavior, consider these questions next time you visit them. 

Is the Home Being Cared For?

Keeping up with general cleaning in the home is a normal function for most people. When a senior is neglecting simple cleaning duties it can signal that they require some help. The following things can indicate that living assistance is needed for keeping a clean and sanitary living space.

  • Eating areas are not being cleaned after use (dishes washed, counters wiped, food put away, etc)
  • Food in the home is expired or spoiled 
  • Garbage bins and recycling are piling up and not being taken out
  • Floors are in obvious need of vacuuming, sweeping, and mopping
  • Bathrooms require cleaning, including mirrors, sinks, toilets, and bathtubs
  • Laundry is piling up and not being addressed
  • There are unpleasant odors in the home

Are Finances Being Taken Care Of?

Managing finances can be cumbersome for all of us, no matter the age. But simple financial tasks like paying a utility bill can become very challenging as someone enters their golden years. 

Assisted living communities help eliminate many of the monthly financial responsibilities that a senior must manage when living alone. Look for these signs that can indicate financial duties are being neglected.

  • Mail is piling up and not being opened
  • Electricity, internet, heat, or hot water are not running at all times
  • There is a lack of groceries and consumables in the home
  • Vehicle has no gas
  • Phone has been disconnected or cell phone is without coverage

Does Health Appear Normal?

As a person’s mental health declines, it is common for hygiene habits to suffer. Physical appearance is a very practical indicator to help determine when assisted living is necessary. 

When a senior is living alone they should be able to bathe themselves and keep up with a personal hygiene routine. This incorporates dental hygiene, including denture care if applicable. Grooming habits such as hair being brushed and cleaned, and nails being trimmed are other observable items that tell the story of a senior’s capacity to live alone.

Physical health can be affected simply by an older person falling down and hurting themselves. This type of instance is an obvious sign that some assistance is necessary for daily activities. If you notice bruises, scrapes, or cuts appearing regularly, have a conversation with the senior you love. Assisted living communities offer 24/7 medical support when residents experience an accident.

A changing physical or mental state may also mean that medications are not being taken or that it’s time for a trip to the doctor. Bentley Commons at Lynchburg provides a setting that ensures medications are being taken accurately and consistently. Community members’ health is always a priority.

Is There Consistent Socialization?

Seniors who live alone need to make an extra effort to stay socialized and active in their community. Daily interactions with others have many physical and mental health benefits. Regular socialization also lowers the risk of developing dementia.

Make sure that the beloved seniors in your family are getting the interaction that benefits their quality of life. Seniors are more likely to have lost friends, so building new relationships is an important aspect as they age. An assisted living community offers socialization and dynamic activities that help seniors lead a happy, healthy life.

Taking the First Step

Everyone slows down a little as they age. But an inability to complete everyday tasks and ALDs can be devastating for a senior’s well-being. Changing lifestyle patterns make it easier to distinguish when assisted living is the right decision. 

Assisted living provides seniors with an opportunity to enjoy their golden years with the security of completing necessary activities safely. An assisted living community offers support, both from peers and professionals, to help seniors regain their confidence. When the time is right, Bentley Commons at Lynchburg is ready to welcome you or your family member with compassion, integrity, and respect. 

Written by Kaplan

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