Sometimes, it becomes apparent that someone who is attempting to live by themselves is no longer capable of doing so safely. Family members may then have to convince an older adult or the courts that a move to an assisted living facility is necessary. We often delay such conversations until issues reach a dangerous point because we do not want to upset our loved one. However, there are some warning signs that a change in living arrangements may be necessary.
Issues with medication or hygiene
It can be difficult to keep multiple medications organized and to take them in accordance with a physician’s instructions. Someone who has repeatedly failed to take necessary medication or ended up in the hospital due to taking multiple doses of a drug too close together may need the structure provided by an assisted living facility for their own protection, or at a minimum, additional in-home assistance.
Other times, there may be issues with an individual’s personal hygiene, or the cleanliness of their house, which will give family members pause. Older adults may struggle to remember to apply deodorant, brush their teeth or comb their hair. They may avoid showering or bathing because of the fall risk. Or they may not be able to maintain their living space, which may be yet another sign that outside help may be necessary.
A failure to meet responsibilities
Many older adults still have to regularly pay bills. They need to pay for their utilities every month or risk having the electricity shut off in their homes. They need to pay rent or mortgage costs and provide for the needs of their pets. Family members finding past-due notices for financial accounts in the mail or realizing that pets look unhealthy or unkept can be the wake-up call the family needs to recognize that their loved one is not capable of managing their own affairs anymore.
A fall or similar incident
Sometimes, it takes a medical emergency for family members to act. An older adult who has lived independently for years may fall down and break a hip. Not only will they need support as they recover from their injuries, but they will also require more support when they fully recover. Someone who has fallen is at increased risk of a fall in the future, and the family members of that person may not be able to provide the daily support that is needed for the individual’s safety and well-being.
Recognizing the early warning signs is the first step in considering whether it may be time to consider a move to an assisted living facility. If ignored, the individual may be subject to financial exploitation, injury and accelerated physical and mental decline resulting in placement in an even more restrictive environment, such as a nursing home.