Most of us want to continue living independently in our own homes for as long as possible. However, it’s not always safe to do so. In many cases, children and relatives are the first to notice when help is needed for an aging loved one, which can create conflict when bringing up the subject. Below, learn what behaviors you should keep an eye out for, and discover the best ways for approaching the conversation of assisted living with your loved one.

What Signs Should I Watch Out For?

You probably know your loved one better than anyone, which is why you might be the first one to notice that something has changed with their behavior, attitude or abilities. An aging parent may begin experiencing physical limitations, worsening cognitive conditions, or a combination of both.

In assessing your loved one’s physical safety, be sure to keep track of the number of recent falls or near-accidents. Every home has a number of potential hazards, but elderly parents who are frail or experiencing mobility issues are at a greater risk of becoming injured in the home.

Certain areas such as the kitchen, stairs, and basement can be dangerous, but the bathroom is the biggest culprit for slips and falls. It is possible to install safety features in the bathroom and other areas to reduce accidents, but home modifications don’t always eliminate the chance of injury.

When it comes to mental and cognitive concerns, you will want to familiarize yourself with behaviors that indicate Alzheimer’s or dementia. Keep in mind that the early warning signs of dementia are usually subtle, such as difficulty finding the right words.

You might notice that your loved one starts having trouble remembering conversations or forgets to pay bills. Yet in many cases, it’s still safe for people in the early stages of cognitive decline to keep living at home if the right precautions are in place.

In the mid to late stages of dementia, you will find that your loved one needs more and more support. There are several signs that indicate it’s no longer safe for a loved one with dementia to continue living alone, such as failing to maintain personal hygiene or keep the house and yard in order.

If a loved one becomes physically aggressive, skips important medications, or stops eating regular meals, it might be time to intervene. Elderly loved ones are also at risk if they begin wandering, as it increases their chance of injury or getting lost.

How to Approach the Topic of Assisted Living with Sensitivity

Talking to a senior loved one about moving to assisted living can make him or her feel threatened and defensive. It’s a good idea to start with some research on the types of assisted living options available, as well as their cost, so you come to the conversation with facts instead of ideas.

Oftentimes, we have an inaccurate or downright negative idea in our heads about what assisted living is really like. For that reason, RetiredLiving says it’s also a good idea to tour assisted living facilities to get a feel for what life would be like there. Your loved one might be pleasantly surprised to learn that these facilities offer a sense of community and support, not just daily living assistance.

Getting Help Talking with Your Family Member

Sometimes, an elderly loved one will outright refuse to have a discussion about assisted living. Navigating this conversation can feel impossible, but there are ways to get through it. For example, elder mediation is a fantastic resource for working your way through the issue. Even if you feel reluctant about paying for help, you might not want to put it off. Mediation is often most effective if you seek help as soon as you face resistance.

Transitioning to assisted living is often an overwhelming and emotional event for elderly loved ones. By knowing the warning signs of safety concerns, approaching the topic with kindness, and seeking professional help when necessary, you can have a more productive conversation with your loved one.

June Duncan

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