One of the more difficult decisions one can make as an adult is figuring out whether a parent should live in an assisted living community. Ideally, parents would spend their golden years in the comfort of their own homes, but this isn’t always possible. In fact, seniors are often healthier and happier in assisted living, where they can get the care they require while being active and social with other people their age. And for those with Alzheimer’s disease, it may be of great benefit to their cognitive function to place them under the care of experienced, compassionate caregivers like those at Aegis Living.
Noticing the signs
When your parent gets older and the ability to care for his or her self independently begins to wane, it’s important to pay attention. Children may have the tendency to overlook the signs of mental and physical decline. After all, everyone wants their parents to be independent for as long as possible, and the indications can be faint. Keep these signs in mind:
Seclusion and Loss of Interest:
As people slip further into cognitive decline, they may be more likely to seclude themselves from friends and family. But loneliness can also be a precursor to Alzheimer’s disease. A study conducted at the ARKIN Mental Health Care in Amsterdam found that feelings of loneliness – not social isolation itself – can predict the onset of dementia. Take notice of your parent’s social and extracurricular activities. Has your father abandoned a favorite hobby? Has your mother stopped spending time with her best friend? Perhaps your parent has given up that club membership that he or she had since you were a child. Loss of interest in activities that a parent once found pleasurable can be a sign of depression.
Dramatic weight fluctuation:
Nutrition and diet can become a major concern among the elderly. If you recognize extreme weight loss in your parent, it may be a sign that he or she is not eating enough. You should also keep an eye out for a large amount of uneaten or spoiled food in the refrigerator and pantry. Often, malnutrition and weight loss is caused by the fact that seniors with dementia can simply forget to eat.
Declining personal hygiene:
Much like with eating properly, hygiene can be a forgotten aspect of everyday life for people with dementia. Your mom may forget that her clothes are dirty after removing them and fail to place the items in the laundry basket. Additionally, an impaired ability to make judgments and feeling overwhelmed by too many clothing choices can attribute to difficulty getting dressed in the morning. Another aspect of poor hygiene is that seniors can have trouble keeping track of bathing, teeth brushing and other facets of cleanliness.
Difficulty with Mobility:
Falls are the leading cause of emergency room visits in the United States for people 65 and older. Falls can cause many problems including fractured bones, lacerations, and even death. As your parents age, there are many factors that can contribute to their fall risk. Common sensory disorders, such as vision and hearing deficits, can affect safety and balance. Side effects and interactions of various prescriptions are other sources of risk since these issues can result in problems such as blood pressure fluctuations, confusion, and shortness of breath. Other major risks include musculoskeletal disorders such as arthritis pain, numbness in feet, decreased muscle strength, and gait abnormalities.
Mental decline may cause your mother to forget important dates or events that are critical to her long-term memory, such as her children’s birthdays, the correct way to use the microwave or the highways she needs to take to get home. However, this can happen in the short-term as well, such as the ability to recall online passwords, names of people she has recently met, appointments or the grocery list. Not all episodes of forgetfulness may be early signs of Alzheimer’s or other dementias, it may just be normal aging. However, multiple experiences that accumulate over time may be cause to visit a physician to discuss the symptoms and possible need for testing.
Attention to Finances:
Although finances can be a touchy subject for some, discussing them with your loved one is essential for their future. If you notice that your parent’s decision-making skills are slowing due to age or health-related issues, you may need to step in and offer additional financial guidance and support. If your parent is in the beginning stages of dementia or Alzheimer’s, offering financial assistance is a must, as the disease can result in a myriad of poor financial planning decisions, such as forgetting to pay monthly bills or making irresponsible and irrational purchases.
Growing health care needs:
It’s normal for people to experience deteriorating health as they get older – it’s a natural part of aging. But if you find that your parent is becoming less able to manage his or her health care needs, it may be time to consider assisted living. Caregivers at these communities can provide seniors with medication administration, in-house doctors’ visits and nutritional guidance to help manage health conditions.
These are just some of the many signs that your parent may be ready for assisted living. Once you have determined that now is the right time, you can begin the process of shopping around for a comfortable community and begin the process of transition. A great way to ease into assisted living is through a trial stay. At Aegis Living, seniors can stay as short-term guests, giving them the opportunity to get to know the staff and residents, engage in activities, taste the food and experience the community in other first-hand ways.