Sooner or later, aging parents will need some degree of help at home. But how will you know when? Many adult children simply wait for a crisis to make it plain that their parents are struggling and something has to change. This isn’t advisable for obvious reasons — home safety, the risk of falling, automotive accidents — the potential for negative outcomes is vast. Will your aging parents tell you they need assistance? Not directly, but if you’re observant, you’ll find out all you need to know to prepare in advance and protect their safety and independence. Here are some common warning signs that signal trouble may be coming and it’s time to look into legal and financial safeguards on behalf of your parents, along with care options like assisted living.
1. Neglecting Personal Hygiene
Has your parents’ appearance changed noticeably in recent months? Are they dressed appropriately, and is their clothing in good condition? Are they continuing to bathe, brush their teeth, and pay attention to grooming? Are you seeing evidence of difficulty with continence?
2. Other Physical Signs
Unexplained bruises or burns can indicate difficulties in the kitchen or episodes of falling. Losing weight may stem from disinterest in eating regularly.
3. Ignoring Routine Chores Around the House
The state of your parents’ residence will reveal a good deal about their capacity to keep up with daily and weekly tasks. Burned out bulbs, nonfunctional smoke alarms, appliances that no longer work, accumulating trash, and increasing clutter aren’t good signs. Neither are stained carpets and the odor of urine.
4. Problems with Food Preparation and Diet
Shopping for food, storing it properly, cooking, and disposing of expired or spoiled items can become increasingly challenging for aging parents. If you’re finding spoiled food in unusual places, expired items in the fridge, mold, or the absence of a fresh, adequate food supply in the home, it’s time to intervene.
5. Behavioral Changes
Are your parents missing regular appointments, such as those with their hairstylist, dentist, physician or financial advisor? Have their sleep patterns changed noticeably? Take note whether your parents appear to be acting differently toward people — friends, other family members, or even you yourself. Are they showing diminished interest in and motivation for activities they once enjoyed?
6. Signs of Mental Decline
It’s natural to give parents the benefit of the doubt when it comes to small mistakes or idiosyncrasies, particularly as they get older. But consistent use of poor judgment, increased confusion, and an apparent loss of reasoning skills can be dangerous. Misplacing small items now and then might be chalked up to simple forgetfulness, but not remembering to pay bills or take medicines at the right time are clear signs they need assistance. Be aware of bank overdrafts, late payment notices, or calls from collection agencies.
Once You See the Signs, Where Do You Find Help?
The desire to remain independent is something we don’t lose with age. But for all the reasons mentioned above, you may come to realize that for your aging loved ones, living alone is no longer an option. For many families, a senior living community can be the best next move. The two common entry levels within senior living communities are independent living and assisted living. Both senior living options offer safe, senior-friendly housing and amenities, with social activities, outings, restaurant-style dining, and a better overall environment for seniors than aging at home alone. But the two aren’t the same.
Independent living doesn’t provide help with activities of daily living (ADLs) like bathing, dressing and grooming. It does offer a maintenance-free lifestyle where seniors can choose to delegate household chores like laundry and housekeeping, and it does provide opportunities for community involvement and social engagement without the difficulty of arranging transportation.
For older loved ones developing or living with chronic health conditions such as heart disease or diabetes or becoming cognitively or physically unable to live on their own, assisted living may be the better choice. Assisted living will give them their own living space, typically an apartment-style set of rooms, with access to additional care and assistance as needed. Certified nursing assistants who receive training geared to the needs of older adults are on staff 24/7 to help residents with ADLs and scheduling doctor visits, while nurses or physicians are also available to provide emergency medical care should the need arise. Choosing between independent living and assisted living is usually determined by the individual needs of the senior resident.
Find a Better Living Environment at Sagewood
If you’re seeing the warning signs listed in this blog post, it may be time to make a change that helps maintain the independence of your older loved ones and improves their quality of life. Desert Willow Assisted Living at Sagewood retirement community in Phoenix may be the answer. Available to both residents and nonresidents of Sagewood, Desert Willow offers an unmatched standard of living and an exceptional level of care. To learn more, please contact us anytime.