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Is it time to think about assisted living?

Young woman talking to senior.

Denial is the most common reason people wait until a fall, injury or illness before they start to seek information on assisted living. So what are the signs that your parent may need help before an emergency happens? Even when you know your parent could use some extra help completing daily tasks, you may still be confused – after all, couldn’t a caretaker come in a few times a week? Is mom or dad really struggling so much? Even considering assisted living for your parent or another senior loved one signals a major life change, and it’s one both you and your loved one are likely to have a lot of feelings about. To help you stay grounded on the real issue – whether your parent or loved one would do better at an assisted living community than in his or her own home – here are some signs it may be time to move your parent into a senior community.

“What are the signs that your parent may need help?”

How does your parent look?

While it may not occur to you, the way your parent is dressing and taking care of his or her hygiene needs is a good sign about whether he or she could benefit from living in a senior community. If your parent is wearing the same clothes every time you visit, or is clearly having difficulty showering, washing his or her hair or keeping clothes laundered, it may be time to plan a move into assisted living. Of course, people of retirement age may relax their grooming and clothing standards – there’s no longer any need to put on a suit for work every morning, for example – but if you notice the same outfit every day or a marked problem with cleanliness, it may be time to find the best community for your parent to experience assisted living.

How is his or her mental and physical condition?

If your parent is currently living with Alzheimer’s or another form of dementia, you are likely already aware that he or she is likely to require memory care in an assisted living community at some point. When to pursue this option is an intensely personal decision, but the safety of your loved one and your own health must always come first. If your loved one has begun to wander, exhibit agitated behavior or even aggression or is not safe in his or her home, it’s time to begin the process of moving him or her into assisted living. It is also important to acknowledge care needs that are beyond what you have the capacity to provide, which can be particularly true of physical care needs that many of us develop as we age. If you cannot reliably help your loved one with the activities of daily living that are most difficult for him or her, it is time for assisted living.

Caretaking can take a toll - both on you and your senior loved one.
Caretaking can take a toll – both on you and your loved one.

How are you managing?

Caregiver stress is real, and it can be a severely upsetting experience. If you are caring for your senior loved one and notice yourself beginning to slip into anxiety, hypervigilance, depression or poor sleeping and eating habits, you may want to add these symptoms to the list of reasons it’s time to look into assisted living for your parent. Caregiving stress is a risk to your own health, which in turn means your loved one will not have someone to depend on – not to mention the other personal and professional responsibilities this amount of stress can prevent you from fulfilling. There is no shame in being overwhelmed – and a conversation with a senior living specialist at a facility of your choice can help calm any feelings of guilt you may have and clarify your options.