Today, people are living longer, and (although we may not want to admit it) may require special care later in life. Coming to grips with our aging parents is never an easy thing to accept. They nurtured and loved us as children, and it’s difficult to believe that the roles are reversed when we find they need our care and assistance.
Mom and Dad may be aging and may require more help than before, but unlike small children, they have pride issues also and need to feel like they are independent. But we need to know that they are safe, comfortable and happy. Sometimes we can provide what they need. And sometimes it’s in their best interest to consider assisted living options where seniors statistically live longer, healthier and happier lives.
Here are some signs to look for when deciding whether your parents might need more help than you can provide them.
The first, and most important sign, is their safety. If mom’s forgetting to turn off the stove, or dad’s struggling on the stairs, it’s time to have them in a place with more supervision. If either mom or dad is forgetting to take their medication, that could lead to serious problems. How close is their home to a hospital or urgent care center?
1. She’s had a bad fall. For seniors, a slip and fall may be more than just embarrassing. Between 20 and 30 percent of falls result in moderate to severe injuries, such as brain injury.
If your loved one has had a fall, and has a severe headache, mental fogginess, blurred vision, numbness in the arms or legs, or other symptoms of brain injury, get medical attention immediately.
2. You see symptoms of stroke. One of the biggest risk factors for stroke is age, so be on the lookout for its symptoms. If you notice that your loved one has weakness or numbness in his/her face or limbs, or has sudden vision loss–particularly if these symptoms are happening on one side of the body, he/she might have had a stroke. A sudden loss of speech, sudden, severe headaches, or sudden unsteadiness can also signal stroke.
3. He’s having chest pains. Chest pain can be a symptom of heart attack. Other symptoms include a feeling of pressure in the chest, sweating, shortness of breath, nausea, lightheadedness, an irregular heartbeat, or pain or pressure in the back, neck, jaw, shoulders, arms or upper belly. If your loved one is having one or more of these symptoms, call 911.
4. You notice sudden weight loss. Most of us would love to lose weight without trying. But when it happens to seniors, it can be a sign of illness. Disease or depression can be the cause, and they are serious problems that should be addressed by a doctor. If you’re concerned about your loved one’s sudden weight loss, make an appointment with their doctor right away.
5. She’s overheated. Seniors are more vulnerable to the heat; they account for 40 percent of heat-related deaths each year. If your loved one has been exposed to the heat, and is feeling lightheaded, faint, nauseous, and sweating, get them to a doctor–she might have heat exhaustion. If she’s running a fever above 104° F, fainting, and/or acting confused, delirious or irritable, call 911–she might have heat stroke.
The next sign is their ability to carry out daily activities. Does it seem like they’re not bathing regularly or eating healthy? Are they paying their bills on time, or have they had something shut off for non-payment? Are they having difficulty keeping their big family home clean? If so, it might be time to look for alternative living arrangements.
Is safety behind the wheel a concern? If you don’t feel safe riding with them or they’ve had a fender bender (or worse), it’s time to make some alternative arrangements. Living in an assisted living facility means that they will have rides to their activities, and you will have peace of mind knowing that you don’t need to worry about them being behind the wheel.
And finally, it’s important to monitor their emotional well-being. Do they seem depressed or lonely? Senior living facilities can provide social activities to help boost their spirits. Are they feeling trapped and isolated in their homes due to mobility issues?
If driving is becoming a safety issue, or mom/dad isn’t comfortable driving, they may not get out like they used to for lunch with friends or religious services. This can create a feeling of isolation and loneliness.
In fact, many seniors live longer, happier lives in senior communities because they are engaged socially. While no one wants to feel like they’re leaving their old friends behind, visiting our community for social events and making new friends always makes a necessary move easier.
It’s never easy to discuss other living arrangements with your senior loved ones, but the sooner you’re able to recognize the signs and discuss alternatives, the happier (and safer) everyone will be in the long run.
One of the best ways to introduce your loved one to an assisted living facility is to have them visit us. Our communities are loving, friendly, comfortable places to hang out and call home. Bring them by. We’ll make sure they feel welcome and make new friends.
For more information on senior living and how to discuss them with your loved ones, contact us. We’re here to help your loved one enjoy the retirement they worked so hard for and to make sure that you have peace of mind knowing that your loved one is getting the attention and safe environment that you need.