June 17, 2016
4 indicators that are easy to overlook
A version of this article originally appeared on Angie's List.
There’s no doubt about it: as we age, things change. Time can certainly bring wisdom, healing, and a sense of fulfillment; yet, at the same time, many older adults experience increasing difficulty in completing daily tasks, a gradual dwindling of friendships, and a fizzling zest for life. If you’re lucky enough to have a close relationship with an older adult, you may be familiar with these experiences, and may have even had opportunities to help them adapt and ease the transitions.
For many people, the choice to move to a senior living community provides an exciting new array of accessible recreational offerings, facilitates enhanced peer relationships, and brings a renewed sense of purpose. These offerings often fill in areas that were previously becoming bleak, empty holes in their lives, and may have otherwise taken several interventions to achieve.
So what if a loved one is no longer participating in their beloved monthly bridge group? What if they’ve neglected some housekeeping tasks that have become too strenuous lately? If you’re noticing any of the following seldom-talked-about, seemingly trivial experiences in the life of someone you love, it may be the right time to consider suggesting a move to a senior living community.
1. Isolation – Look for decreased interest in past social pursuits, limited interactions with peer groups, or comments about missing friends and family.
Isolation can be a serious issue, particularly if your loved one has given up driving or is living alone. Sure, they may still be physically able to see and handle the playing cards, but feel they don’t have anyone to partake with, or just can’t put forth the effort to find those with a shared interest. Consider that senior living communities provide a built-in sense of hospitality, surrounding your loved one with neighbors and staff members on a daily basis. Even before initial friendships begin to form, they’ll immediately be part of a community, which can be an irreplaceably welcome feeling.
2. Occasional forgetfulness – Watch for missed medications, skipped meals, repetitive questions or stories, or decreased personal hygiene.
Occasional forgetfulness is something we all experience, but it can progress, leading to serious concerns. A senior community with a restaurant on the main floor may be just what someone needs to encourage regular, nutritious meals. A community offering some level of personal care assistance could fill the gaps during those potentially dangerous occurrences of forgetfulness. These services can be life-changing for an older adult who just needs occasional reminders (or more) to continue living a fulfilling, otherwise-independent life.
3. Challenges maintaining the home – Be attentive to increased expenses for home maintenance (e.g. expenses for lawn care, seasonal upkeep, handyman services), tasks being neglected, or frequent requests to family and friends.
Senior living communities provide easy, breezy, maintenance-free living, where chores such as gutter cleaning, lawn mowing, and sidewalk shoveling are included in rent. Many also even provide light housekeeping and 24/7 maintenance services for everything from a leaky faucet to a burnt out light bulb. Many seniors report that, once they break down and add up all the costs, they actually save money in a senior community setting compared to the expenses of maintaining their own home.
4. Caregiver or family member burnout – Stay in tune to family members or close friends (this might be you!) whose ability to help out is wearing thin.
Countless older adults name “peace of mind for my family” as a strong reason for their move to a senior living community. They don’t want to burden their loved ones, and they deserve to simply enjoy their time together as friends and family, rather than as caregiver and patient. Consider the sense of relief that a safe, secure home at a senior community can provide for the older adult as well as their family and friends.
Remember, senior communities do not equate to the setting you may think of as a “nursing home.” While they may offer nursing care, most are bustling centers for full, rewarding lifestyles, surrounded by vivacious peers and compassionate teams of expert employees. They can offer a range of services and personal care assistance, from none at all to around-the-clock, so keep that in mind as you explore your options.
Lastly, if you find yourself worrying or having doubts about your loved one living alone safely, don’t wait around; be proactive in your suggestions. Your encouragement may be just what they need to feel confident in making a move that can be life-changing in an unthinkably positive way.
Have you helped a loved one make a decision to move to a senior community? Do you have expertise to share? Leave us a reply below!