When is the Right Time to Move to Assisted Living?

Moving to an assisted living community can be difficult and emotional not only for those moving, but also for those around them. It can also be a fulfilling change that brings peace of mind and new opportunities for the next chapter of life.

For some older adults, it’s easy to accept that they need additional support and services. Others may be resistant or unwilling to admit that assisted living is the best option to get the help they need.

In many cases, the decision to move to assisted living is one that older adults are involved in making along with loved ones or caregivers. At times, due to decreased decision-making abilities or cognitive function, family members or caregivers who have a strong relationship with the older adult may need to make that decision for them.

No matter what precipitates the consideration process and who is involved in making it, it can be hard to determine if and when it’s the right time to move to an assisted living community. There is no manual on this concept, and certainly no hard and fast answer, but there are several signals you can be aware of when deciding if moving to assisted living is the right choice.

Monitor Daily Activities
Activities of daily living (ADLs), are the first basic actions that professionals observe when evaluating if someone would be better served in an assisted living community versus at home on their own. This is a great place to start as you consider this decision.

By looking at abilities for performing basic ADLs, it will help you understand if your loved one is still able to live independently, what they currently need or receive assistance with, and what could be provided for them at assisted living.

ADLs were originally developed by Dr. Sidney Katz, who broke them down into six main categories:

  • Bathing
  • Dressing
  • Toileting
  • Transferring (Getting in and out of bed)
  • Continence
  • Feeding

Noting which of these activities they can and cannot do will help determine how much assistance your loved one may need. If they can complete five of the six basic activities, they may require just a little additional help within the home. However, if they can only accomplish one or two of the activities, an assisted living community may be the right choice to receive all the support they need in one place.

Tune In To Other Crucial Areas
In addition to caring for basic needs, there are other everyday activities to keep an eye on when deciding if now is the right time to move to an assisted living facility.

Increasing Health Issues
With age inevitably comes additional health concerns. If the older adult is beginning to experience more complicated health concerns, or if their existing health conditions are continuing to degrade, an assisted living facility may be able to help manage their condition. 24/7 caregivers and nurses at assisted living communities could monitor and offer daily care as needed.

Be sure to look into any specific clinical criteria that may mean an even higher level of care than assisted living is needed. This can differ from community to community.

Missed Bills or Deadlines
Watch for pile-ups of mail or missed deadlines. If your loved one is unable to manage their household finances or pay bills on time, it may be a sign that the regular tasks of life are getting to be too much. An assisted living facility may be able to help remove this stress by helping with many of the little things that add up.

Caregiver Stress
If you or someone else is currently serving as a caregiver, pay attention to your stress level or that of the caregiver. As the older adult’s needs grow, there may come a time when you are unable to keep up with the demands of caregiving. This is a sign that their needs may be better served by an assisted living community, where there is always a team on-hand to offer the care they need to be healthy and well.

Falling Behind on Housework
You may notice that your loved one’s home is becoming messier than it had been previously. They may have trouble managing basic chores, such as laundry or doing the dishes. While it may seem minor at the time, over time, maintaining a household can cause a lot of stress on aging individuals. When it becomes too much, or if you find yourself doing more and more to help keep the household in order, consider that housekeeping services are usually an included service at assisted living communities. This burden could be removed from their plate or yours, allowing more time to focus on taking care of themself and enjoying your relationship.

Dangers in the Home or Falls
If the state of the senior’s home is falling into disrepair, it may create hazardous conditions within the home. Misplaced items, a loose floorboard, or tattered old rugs could create a tripping hazard or lead to dangerous falls. If your loved one is unable to maintain the home and keep it in safe condition, a move to assisted living may be just right.

Missed Medications
If the older adult is forgetting to take their medications, it could lead to more serious medical conditions down the line. An assisted living facility can monitor their health and ensure that they take all necessary medications on schedule.

Try some of our medication management tips mentioned in this blog article, and if they don’t seem to be helping, consider the benefit of having all medications managed by the professionals at an assisted living community.

Hygiene Issues
Is your loved one still able to shower and wash themselves on their own? A lack of hygiene is often an early sign that they may be struggling to complete basic tasks. They may not want to tell you that they are having trouble taking a shower, so watch for any unusual changes in their appearance.

Wandering or Getting Lost
Have they wandered away from home and been unable to find their way back? A common early sign of dementia, getting lost away from home is a clear signal that they may need additional monitoring and assistance that an assisted living or memory care can provide.

Every situation is different, but if you are concerned, it may be a good time to begin talking about assisted living and options for care.

These conversations may be difficult, but they’re necessary in order to keep your loved one happy and healthy for years to come. Read our blog on talking to a parent about assisted living for tips to help get the conversation started.

Have a question or something to add about this important decision to move? Leave us a comment below.