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8 Signs It’s Time to Consider Senior Living

Explore eight signs that it might be time to consider senior living. Seniorly offers advice on how to evaluate your loved one’s ability to live alone.

By Seniorly Editor Updated on Jan 25, 2023

It’s difficult to come to terms with the fact that your parents may need some extra care to thrive as aging adults. However, your primary goal is to make sure your loved ones are in a safe place where they can enjoy their later years. While more seniors are choosing to age in place, there may come a point where it’s time to consider the move to assisted living near you or any other appropriate community location. How can you know when it’s time to discuss a change in living arrangements? Although every situation is unique, the following signs are good indicators that it’s time to talk to your parents about moving to an assisted living property.  

Sign #1 – Recent Accidents or Medical Issues

Recent accidents, worsening of current medical issues, or the development of new medical problems are all big red flags that your parent may require more care. Did your loved one recently have a fall at home? The odds of having an accident increases with age and it can be difficult for them to get the help they need if they’re living at home.

Chronic health conditions like congestive heart failure, dementia, and COPD can all grow worse over time, which means loved ones with these conditions will need more care as time passes. The development of new medical conditions may make it clear that your loved one needs to have the increased level of assistance available in an assisted living community.

Sign #2 – Difficulty with Home Maintenance

When you visit your parents, pay attention to how their home looks from the outside. Is their yard overgrown? Lack of yard maintenance may be a sign your loved one isn’t doing so well living at home. Signs of neglect like broken windows, dirty windows, clogged gutters, and leaking ceilings show that your loved one isn’t able to take care of their home very well. Mail piled up in the mailbox or newspapers piled up on the front step or under bushes are signs your loved one isn’t getting out of the house to retrieve these items.

One solution for this and all in-home concerns is to engage the professional guidance of a Geriatric Care Manager. 

Sign #3 – Poor Hygiene and Unkempt Appearance

Personal hygiene tasks may become difficult for your loved one to complete over time. As it becomes tough for them to keep up with routine personal hygiene, you may notice that your parent’s appearance is changing. Some of the warning signs that they can’t keep up with their own personal care include:

  • Unwashed hair
  • Uncombed hair
  • Unkempt beard
  • Body odor
  • Bad breath
  • Stained clothing
  • Dirty clothing
  • Missing buttons

These signs are especially concerning if your parent is usually picky about how they look.

Sign #4 – Noticeable Weight Loss or Weight Gain   

Pay attention to your loved one’s weight. Both noticeable weight loss and weight gain should grab your attention. With weight loss, your loved one may feel thinner when you hug them, or you may notice their clothing is too loose. Your parent could be having a tough time cooking or getting out to do shopping. Check the fridge to see if there’s enough food on hand. Health conditions like cancer, depression, and many others can result in weight loss as well.

If you see noticeable weight gain, some of the common causes could be diabetes or an injury that is keeping your parent from being active. In some cases, dementia may cause seniors to forget they ate, so they keep indulging in snacks and meals through the day. Even money problems could cause weight gain, resulting in your parent choosing cheaper packaged goods instead of fresh fare that’s more expensive.

Sign #5 – Shrinking Social Circles and Personal Connections

As people age, their social circles often shrink. Unfortunately, this can have some significant safety and health implications. Studies have shown that social isolation and loneliness increase the risk of health problems in seniors and even increases the risk of mortality. Consider your parent’s social connections:

  • Do they still have regular outings with friends?
  • Is your loved one still taking part in their favorite activities?
  • Are they engaging in their hobbies?
  • Does your loved one go for days at a time without ever leaving the house?
  • Do they have friends over or go visit friends?

If your loved one isn’t able to go out with friends, shows a lack of interest in former hobbies, and doesn’t get out of the house on their own, it may be time to consider a change. Assisted living communities offer activities, entertainment, and the chance for your loved one to build friendships so they can grow their social circle.  

Sign #6 – Recent Financial Difficulties

Check to see if your loved one is having financial difficulties. Start by looking at their mail. If you notice stacks of mail that go unopened your parent may be having a tough time managing their money matters. Unopened bills are signs that your loved one may not be able to maintain their finances, which may be an early sign of dementia. Letters from insurers, creditors, and banks may be notices of payments that haven’t been made. Large donations to charities that your parent really can’t afford can be concerning as well. Other warning signs of potential financial problems include:

  • Cancellation of insurance policies because of nonpayment
  • Gas, electricity, or other utilities being shut off
  • Collection calls
  • Frequently overdrawing accounts

Sign #7 – Problems While Driving

If your loved one is still driving, difficulties while driving could be a clue that it’s time to consider assisted living. Do you notice that there are new dents and nicks in your parent’s car? This could be a sign of careless driving. Is your parent easily distracted while driving? Does your loved one get lost while going to common destinations like the bank or the store? This can be a big red flag that something is wrong.  When your parent is having a tough time driving safely and navigating on their own, it may be time to talk about moving to an assisted living property for their own safety.

Sign #8 – Neglecting Routine Housekeeping Chores

When aging adults begin slowing down, it’s often difficult for them to keep up with routine housekeeping chores. Failing to keep up with regular housekeeping tasks can actually become dangerous. Lots of clutter around the home becomes a tripping hazard, and the inability to throw items away could be signs of physical or neurological problems. Spills left uncleaned, bathroom mold, thick dust, and cobwebs can be signs your loved one isn’t able to take care of their home. A move to assisted living can take care of this issue, relieving your parent of those housekeeping tasks that have become tough for them to complete.

If you notice more than one of these signs when you visit your parent’s home, it’s time to start talking about assisted living.  Although it’s difficult to bring up this idea to your loved one, your main concern should be their safety and well-being.  

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This piece is part of our Healthy Aging Handbook, read the next one to learn more about helping aging parents: How to Talk to Your Parents About Assisted Living
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Seniorly Editor

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