For many people, an independent living community provides the ideal environment to thrive. With a variety of convenient services and amenities available, independent living offers residents the freedom to pursue their hobbies and interests without worrying about home maintenance and other chores.
Some individuals require additional support, however, and find that assisted living better fits their needs. What are some of the signs that it may be time for you or a family member to transition from an independent living residence to assisted living?
Difficulty with Daily Activities
To stay healthy and safe, individuals who live independently typically have the ability to prepare their own meals, take any required medications, and take a shower or bath each day. Trouble with managing regular daily activities often serves as a sign that it may be time for a move to assisted living.
Skills like doing laundry, managing medications, shopping for groceries, cooking, eating and bathing are vital tasks for living independently. Medical practitioners often use the ability to engage in such tasks as a way to assess the correct level of living for individuals.
If you believe your relative may be having trouble with daily activities, you can look to some of the possible effects as confirmation. If your family member has experienced unexplained weight loss, his or her diet may have changed in a negative way. Weight loss may indicate that the individual is having trouble with shopping or cooking and has begun to eat less. In addition, undiagnosed medical conditions can cause weight loss.
Unexplained weight gain, on the other hand, can indicate that your relative has experienced an injury that has interfered with the ability to move around or exercise. In addition, loss of the ability to shop or prepare meals may cause your relative to consume fewer fresh foods and more convenience foods.
Residents of independent living have access to chef-prepared meals, but not all meals may be provided. In assisted living, you or your family member will enjoy three delicious, nutritious meals every day.
Soiled clothing and an unkempt appearance may indicate that your family member is not doing laundry or bathing as often. An increase in medical symptoms — such as pain, dizziness or confusion — might result if your relative is not taking medications correctly.
Neglect of Household Chores
Most people engage in numerous household tasks each day without thinking about the effort required. From bringing in the mail to sweeping the porch or changing a light bulb, daily chores require hours of most people’s days but do not prove especially taxing — either physically or mentally.
For some independent living residents, however, daily chores can become overwhelming. Whether due to physical problems like arthritis, declining cognitive abilities or another medical reason, some independent living residents may begin to complete daily tasks less frequently.
Chores that once seemed effortless — such as putting away boxes of holiday decorations — can begin to cause significant pain or simply take more energy than an individual has. In some cases, independent living residents who begin experiencing difficulty may simply choose to avoid the problematic tasks. The results may be plainly visible, such as dirty dishes piling up in the sink. They also may be less obvious, such as clothes that get washed less frequently.
If you notice unswept floors, burned-out light bulbs, unmade beds or furniture covered in dust, it may be a sign that your family member needs some assistance with household chores. In addition, a cluttered living area may indicate that your relative has problems with throwing out items. Mold in the bathroom, cobwebs on the walls and ceilings, and dirty bathrooms all may indicate that your family member is unable to clean his or her home appropriately.
In assisted living, housekeeping and personal care assistance are provided as part of the monthly fee. With the additional support, you or your family member can spend time enjoying life instead of worrying about household chores.
Problems with Managing Money
How can you tell if your relative is having trouble managing money? If you notice piles of unopened mail that include bills to be paid, your relative may be neglecting to attend to financial matters appropriately. Thank-you letters from numerous charities, along with letters from banks or creditors, also can indicate that your family member is doling out money inappropriately or has neglected to meet important obligations. In addition, unread magazines may indicate that subscriptions are automatically renewing — and that your family member has continued to pay for the unwanted publications.
If you feel that it’s time to help with your relative’s finances, a move to assisted living may be in order. In assisted living, your family member will pay one convenient monthly fee that covers all aspects of daily life, including meals, utilities, housekeeping, security, home maintenance, and assistance with personal care needs. With just one monthly fee to pay — and without multiple bills for utilities, home maintenance and other services — managing finances for yourself or your relative may become easier.
A Need for Greater Safety and Security
Neglecting household chores can result in safety problems, such as clutter that becomes a tripping hazard. Burned-out light bulbs that are not replaced promptly leave poorly-lit areas that also can increase the chances of a fall. Poorly placed throw rugs or spilled liquids also can create hazards.
In assisted living, you or your family member gain peace of mind from the many security initiatives in place. Security personnel staff the community around-the-clock, and your private residence includes an emergency call system. In addition, staff members promptly clean up any spills, and hallways are kept clear of any items that could become tripping hazards. Common areas are well-lit, and any burned-out bulbs are replaced right away. Bathrooms include grab bars and other safety features.
Has your family member begun to have problems driving safely? If you’re unsure, go for a ride with your relative and observe any distracted or unsafe operations. Tailgating, drifting into other lanes, and driving too slowly all can be signs that reaction time has become impaired to a potentially dangerous level.
Failure to wear a seat belt also can indicate confusion or inattention when driving, and dents or nicks on the vehicle can point to careless driving as well. If your family member avoids driving at night or traveling on highways, driving ability may have become impaired.
In assisted living, you or your relative will have access to transportation to local outings — including shopping and other activities — and to medical and dental appointments.
Loneliness or Isolation
Independent living residents have access to a wide variety of activities, hobbies, groups and events to keep life fun and interesting. Because individuals live independently, however, they may choose not to participate in activities or eat their meals with other residents of the community. As a result, people living in independent living may have a greater chance of feeling isolated if they do not leave their private residence and get out into the community.
Loneliness can cause serious health problems. If an individual is unable to go out into the community to meet people, a transition to assisted living may help.
Assisted living is a more intimate environment, and the chances of developing serious loneliness or isolation are reduced. Trained staff members enter individuals’ residences for housekeeping and to assist with personal care tasks, ensuring that residents have contact with others. In addition, all community amenities and activities can be accessed with a short walk within the same building, making it easier for those with mobility challenges to socialize with others.
If you or your family member have begun to feel isolated in independent living, transitioning to assisted living may provide additional opportunities for interacting with other people and warding off feelings of loneliness.
Choose a Community with a Full Continuum of Care
When you choose to move to a supportive living community like Forest Hill, you gain access to a comprehensive, on-site continuum of care with several levels of living. Forest Hill offers independent living, assisted living and skilled nursing to provide you with a customized lifestyle that fits your needs. To learn more about Forest Hill or to schedule your visit, please contact us.