For a lot of families, one of the hardest parts of a senior living search is knowing when it's time to start. Here are some signs that indicate it might be time for Assisted Living or Memory Care:
1) An untidy house
If it’s getting harder and harder to find the counter top in your dad’s kitchen underneath layers of unopened mail, or if the cat's litter box looks like it hasn’t seen a scoop in quite some time, it might be time for senior living. Unopened mail (especially bills) raises questions as to how finances are being maintained, and general mess and clutter pose a safety risk.
2) Recognizable weight loss
Malnutrition is rampant in the senior population, so much so that an estimated one in three seniors is malnourished. Be sure to take note of your parents’ general appearance, the way their clothes fit, and their energy levels.
Likewise, make sure you pay attention to the food your parents are eating. Sure, having the occasional TV dinner is convenient, but if you open up your parents’ fridge and only find processed food, or lots of expired food, that might be a red flag.
3) Disheveled appearance
Did your once-fashionista Mom answer the door in the same stained robe and tattered slippers three visits in a row? Is your dad’s hair starting to look greasy and matted on a regular basis? Unpleasant body odors, continuously bad breath, and dirty clothes are all things to look for.
Changes in hygiene in seniors is unfortunately common and stem from a few possible reasons, including decreased levels of sight and smell, and adhering to personal independence (“My grandkids are always harping on me to take better care of myself. I’m fine!”) Lastly, changes in hygiene may be signs of depression or cognitive decline.
4) Dings, dents, and scratches
Is there a scratch down the side of your Mom’s car, but she swears she doesn’t know how it got there? Or is your Dad frequently complaining about close calls with other drivers? According to AAA, crash rates increase starting at age 75, and rise sharply after age 80, making complimentary scheduled transportation (which is included in most Assisted Living leases,) a major draw.
If you notice any of these signs in your aging parent, don't wait. Consult a doctor to see if senior living may be the right fit for your Mom or Dad.