How To Recognize When It’s Time For Assisted Living

By Lydia Chan

Caring for a senior loved one is never easy, but one of the most difficult aspects of this responsibility is acknowledging when it might be time for some additional help. Moving a loved one into assisted living is an extremely tough decision. Since most seniors want to age in place, you may be met with some resistance when you broach the subject to your parents or other seniors in your life. In many cases, however, a move into assisted living is beneficial for everyone. But when is the best time for this transition? The following signs can help you decide if it’s time to start discussing assisted living with your senior loved one.

Paying for Assisted Living

Assisted living can be expensive, which is a common reason why many seniors are hesitant to move forward with long-term care. For funding help, check if your loved one has a life insurance policy. Zacks Investment Research explains that life insurance can be used to pay for assisted living in a couple of ways, so your loved one might want to consider cashing in now. For example, some life insurance policies include long-term care riders, which allow you to use some of the death benefit to pay for long-term care. You can also sell a life insurance policy for cash. If you need to find out if your loved one has life insurance, LHLIC recommends checking old mail and bills, contacting past employers, talking with friends, and using online search tools like MissingMoney.

Look for Signs Around the Home

If you’re not sure whether assisted living would be beneficial for your loved one, start paying attention to the state of their home. Is the fridge stocked with nutritious food? Are their home and yard maintained as usual? Are there stacks of unopened mail or unpaid bills lying around? Signs that chores and responsibilities are being neglected could indicate that daily living is getting too challenging for your loved one to manage alone. Even an increase in household clutter or hoarding behaviors could be signs of deteriorating mental and physical health.

Watch for a Lapse in Self-Care

If your loved one is struggling with the activities of daily living, they may be neglecting essential self-care tasks as well. Find out if they’re eating properly, bathing regularly, exercising, and dressing in clean, fresh clothing. Make sure that your loved one is taking their medications on time and as prescribed. According to AgingCare, excessive drinking or drug use can also be signs of self-neglect, so try to find out what your loved one is doing when you’re not around. To spot substance abuse in seniors, look for sudden mood changes, excessive sleeping, drowsiness, confusion, lying, and overuse of prescriptions.

Be Mindful of Mental Health

As seniors face mobility impairments and mental decline, they may become increasingly isolated from others. This can have a serious effect on mental health. When you call or visit your loved one, find out if they are still leaving the house regularly, engaging with friends and family, and participating in the hobbies that they enjoy. Do they appear as active and vibrant as they used to, or are they showing signs of loneliness, depression, or anxiety?

Communication Is Key

If you decide that your loved one would be better off in assisted living, get them involved in the discussion as early as possible. Open, honest communication will make this tricky move easier on everyone. Find a good time to broach the subject — ideally when your loved one is in a good mood and you have other family members or friends around for support—and emphasize that the ultimate decision is up to your senior loved one. Keep in mind that you might have to revisit the topic a couple of times before your loved one feels comfortable discussing their options.

Life is full of difficult decisions, but moving a parent, spouse, or relative into assisted living is one of the hardest. It’s completely normal to feel conflicted, sad, and even guilty about your decision. Just remember that you’re doing what is best for them. Try to look to the future and focus on the fresh start your loved one will enjoy under the right assisted living care.