ANTIOCH, Calif., Aug. 28, 2014 /PRNewswire-iReach/ --
11 Signs It Might Be Time for Assisted Living
The decision to help an aging adult move out of a current home is a complex one -- both emotionally and practically. Above all, you want the person to be safe and well. How can you all feel more confident about whether circumstances suggest that your loved one should no longer be living alone?
Although every situation is different, looking at the following 11 signs will give you valuable information to help make the decision. Here are a few things that Dr. Vincent Malfitano thinks you ought to look out for.
1. Big-picture signs it might be time for assisted living
Keep these big red flags in mind. Certain situations make it more obvious that it's wise to start thinking about alternate living arrangements.
Recent accidents or close calls.
Did your loved one take a fall, have a medical scare, or get in a fender bender (or worse)? Who responded and how long did it take? Accidents do happen, but as people get older, the odds rise of them happening again.
A slow recovery.
How did the person you're caring for weather the most recent illness (for example, a flu or bad cold)? Was he or she able and willing to seek medical care when needed, or did last winter's cold develop into untreated bronchitis?
A chronic health condition that's worsening.
Progressive problems such as COPD, dementia, and congestive heart failure can decline gradually or precipitously, but either way, their presence means your loved one will increasingly need help.
Increasing difficulty managing the activities of daily living (ADLs) and instrumental activities of daily living (IADLs).
ADLs and IADLs are the skills needed to live independently -- dressing, shopping, cooking, doing laundry, managing medications, and so on. Doctors, social workers, and other geriatric experts evaluate them as part of a functional assessment, which is one way to get an expert's view of the situation. Difficulties with ADLs and IADLs can sometimes be remedied by bringing in more in-home help.
2. Up-close signs it might be time for assisted living
Give your loved one a big hug. Clues aren't always visible from a distance; especially when you don't see the person every day, you might learn more through touch.
Noticeable weight loss.
Does the person feel thinner? Are clothes loose, or has he added notches to his belt? Many conditions, from depression to cancer, can cause weight loss. A person who is having trouble getting out to shop or remembering how to cook (or to eat) can lose weight; check the fridge and watch meal-prep skills.
Seeming more frail.
Do you feel anything "different" about the person's strength and stature when you hug? Can your loved one rise easily from a chair? Does she or he seem unsteady or unable to balance? Compare these observations to the last time you were together.
Noticeable weight gain.
Common causes include an injury slowing the person down, diabetes, and dementia (when someone doesn't remember eating, he or she may indulge in meals and snacks all day long). Someone with money troubles may choose fewer fresh foods and more packaged goods or dried pasta and bread.
Strange body odor.
Unfortunately, a close hug can also reveal changes in personal hygiene habits. Causes range from memory trouble to depression to other physical ailments.
Changes in appearance.
Does the person's hair and makeup look all right? Are clothes clean? Someone known for crisply ironed shirts who's now in a stained sweatshirt may lack the dexterity for buttons or may have lost the strength for managing an ironing board and iron. A formerly clean-shaven man with an unkempt beard may be forgetting to shave (or forgetting how to shave).
3. Social signs it might be time for assisted living
Think realistically about the person's social connections. Social circles tend to shrink with age, which can have health and safety implications.
Signs of active friendships.
Does your loved one still get together for lunches or outings with friends or visits with neighbors, or participate in religious activities or other group events? Does he or she talk about others or keep a calendar of appointments? Lack of companionship is associated with depression and heart problems in older adults. If friends have died or moved away, moving to a place where other people are around could be lifesaving.
Signs that your loved one has cut back on activities and interests.
Is a hobby area abandoned? Has a club membership been given up? A library card gone unused? There are many reasons people cut back, but dropping out of everything and showing interest in almost nothing is a red flag for depression.
Days spent without leaving the house.
This sometimes happens because the person can no longer drive or is afraid to take public transportation alone and lacks a companion to come along. While many older adults fear being "locked away" in a retirement home, many such facilities offer regular outings that may keep them more mobile and active, not less.
Someone who checks in on a regular basis.
If not you or another family member, who does this? Is your loved one willing to consider a home-safety alarm system, a personal alarm system, or a daily calling service?
A plan for a worst-case scenario.
If there's a fire, earthquake, flood, or other disaster, is someone on standby to assist? Does your loved one understand the plan?
Media Contact: Brandon Hopkins, AfterHim Media LLC, 559-871-1613, firstname.lastname@example.org
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SOURCE Dr. Vincent Malfitano