The main event. 

A lot of times when somebody moves into assisted living, it’s because there was an “event”. Maybe they fell, bruised a hip, and the doctors say they have a risk of falling again in the future.  Then they ask the family, “if they do fall again, who’s going to be there in the home to help them or bring them in or call 911?” That is when the conversation about moving into assisted living typically begins.

It’s not just that they’re getting a little older, a little forgetful, they could simply trip over the carpet. They could get up in the middle of the night, one of their legs gives out and they fall down. When they work their way back up to the edge of the bed, they crack a rib on the footboard. A cracked rib at any age is hard, but when you’re elderly it’s really difficult.

The questions you need to start to ask are things like are there mobility issues? Are they tripping? Are they falling? Are there more activities that they can’t do?  Or even slowing down to the point where they need a cane, a walker or even a wheelchair.

“Loneliness is the poverty of self; solitude is the richness of self.” – May Sarton

The second sign is that they’re lonely. They’re at home, alone, and they’re not engaged anymore. You’ve heard this saying before, “don’t retire because within three years you’re dead”. It’s a matter of slowing down in the mind, the activities. If there’s nothing stimulating them if they’re all alone at home, what’s going to stimulate them?

They need to be engaged mentally as well as physically and sometimes they just need to do something where they’re giving their time and attention to someone or something other than themselves. They need to be a part of a community.   If you find that their social engagement has dramatically decreased, they’re quieter, they’re staying in, they don’t leave the house anymore, that could turn into social constriction, and isolation.

Activities of Daily Living.

The 3rd question to ask is, “are they meeting their own needs when it comes to medication management, food, and generally taking care of themselves”?  Those kinds of personal functions are what we call Activities of Daily Living or ADLs. When they start to need help with those things, you know that it’s getting close to time for needing additional help.  

We eat when we’re hungry. But sometimes seniors with memory care issues forget to eat or they eat and forgot that they ate and eat again. Or they’re cooking their own food and leave it in the pot and then the next day they heat it up again even though it sat overnight. Or they’re using utensils that don’t make sense and could be dangerous to themselves or others.

Other signs that someone may need assisted living include not bathing the way they should or their clothes haven’t been cleaned.  In addition seniors, many times, just simply stop drinking liquid, because they don’t want to have to go to the bathroom. It may be a hard thing to get up and to go and that may become a problem medically too.

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