When is it Time...

Posted by Anne Reynolds on Nov 30, 2016

In Assisted Living

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When Is It Time To Consider Assisted Living?

Moving into an assisted living environment can be a big step, and one which many are reluctant to make. It can feel like an admittance of age, and a loss of agency. However, sometimes, staying in one’s own home is either a bad idea or simply untenable, and those who don’t take the step to assisted living will find themselves losing their independence entirely as their ability to look after themselves deteriorates. Assisted living, far from a ‘defeat’, provides a way for older people to maintain their independence and live a life of their choosing for longer than may otherwise be possible. However, it is important to recognise when assisted living is the right step to take, or the opportunity may be lost forever. If you are considering assisted living, either for yourself or for a loved one, here are some signs that it’s the right time to take this step.

Cognitive Decline

We all get more forgetful as we get older. That’s perfectly natural, and nobody should panic over the occasional lapse in memory. However, some seniors will contract dementia, which ultimately leads to far more serious cognitive decline. This can take some years to progress to a state in which the sufferer is entirely dependent, so many dementia sufferers can look after themselves reasonably well for a reasonably long time. However, it is not a good idea for anyone with dementia to live alone due to the potential for ‘episodes’ which can impede their ability to fully care for themselves. Assisted living is an excellent compromise for dementia sufferers, allowing them to maintain their independence while simultaneously having help at hand to ensure that they’re coping (and to step in when they’re not). Some health insurers will cover assisted living care costs for dementia patients, but this is rare, so it’s worth consulting with doctors and financial advisors over your options for healthcare costs in this case. Signs that a dementia sufferer is ready for assisted living include:

  • Wandering off. Wandering and getting lost is not only distressing, it is dangerous. If you or your loved one has experienced ‘wandering’ episodes, assisted living could provide the kind of safe, secure environment that’s needed.

  • ‘Sundowning’. As dementia advances, sufferers often become more agitated as the evening draws in. This can be distressing for all involved, and frequently causes carer fatigue.

  • Aggression. Aggression brought on by confusion and general cognitive decline is dangerous for all involved, and can make life very different for carers. Those involved in an assisted living complex are far more able to deal with this kind of thing than others are, and can handle aggression in a safe, calm, and professional fashion.

Physical Health Issues

Nobody wants to become a slave to their health, but it’s a sad truth that our health tends to decline as we get older. If someone is finding that the state of their health is impeding their life to the point where they cannot adequately care for themselves, it’s time to ask for help. Assisted living is one of the best kinds of help you can get, as it not only helps people to preserve their independence, it also allows friends and loved ones to remain involved without placing stressful burdens upon them. Furthermore, assisted living can actually help people to stay more independent for longer, as the risk of suffering an accident which could eliminate independence forever increases the longer a physically frail person attempts to navigate life in their own home without assistance.

Caregiver Fatigue

Many people prefer to care for elderly loved ones themselves than to encourage them to enter assisted living. This is very understandable, and commendable. However, it is not always practical. Providing full time care, potentially on top of working and looking after a family, is stressful - particularly if you are not trained in the particulars of geriatric care. Even the most loving, giving, and patient individual can lose their temper when burnout begins to bite, and mental health issues among carers are worryingly common. Those who work in assisted living communities are professionally trained carers, who are more equipped than most to cope with the trials of the job. What is more, placing someone in assisted living by no means indicates that you’re abandoning them. Visits and even personal involvement in care are positively encouraged. It does, however, mean that the care can cease to be a burdensome chore, and once again come from a place of love and health.