Caring for an aging loved one can be one of the most rewarding, but also hardest jobs, both mentally and physically, you ever encounter in your lifetime. Family caregivers, whether it be a spouse, partner, child, sibling or grandchild, generally spend between 20 – 40 hours per week providing quality care for their aging loved one.
While the need to provide your loved one with adequate and personalized care is your top priority, it’s equally as important to identify when it may be time to make the transition to a senior care facility. Senior care facilities offer varying levels of care depending on your loved one’s needs, but all aim to provide a safe living option for those who are no longer able to live at home.
"Having worked in healthcare for over 30 years, one question I am most frequently asked is, 'When is it time to consider a senior care facility?' Many families struggle with when, as a family, they can provide the needed support for their aging loved one and when they need to seek the additional professional assistance of a senior living community."
— Candy Sanson, LISW-S, LNHA administrator, O'Neill Healthcare Bay Village
Below, we list five ways to help you identify if it may be time to discuss a senior living facility with your aging loved one.
1. Changes in Physical Health
As your aging loved one’s caregiver, you are well in-tune with their physical health. This means you will most likely be able to identify any changes that can inhibit them from living their everyday life.
If you suspect your loved one’s health is declining and could impact their ability to fulfill daily tasks without your full-time assistance, it may be time to consider a senior living option.
Changes to look out for include:
- Inability to take care of personal hygiene.
- Unable to perform general tasks around the house like preparing meals.
- Limited mobility getting around the house or running errands.
- Increased or worsening symptoms of a life-limiting illness or disease (Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s / dementia, cancer, etc.).
Whether it be short-term or long-term, there are a variety of living solutions available to fit their specific needs.
>>>Related Resource: 6 Types of Senior Living Options: What’s Right for Your Family?
2. Increased Signs of Forgetfulness
We all have the tendency to be forgetful from time to time. However, if your loved one is experiencing signs of forgetfulness that could impact health or safety, it may be a sign that a change is needed.
Some signs to watch for include:
- Missing appointments, such as doctor visits.
- Forgetting to take regular medications.
- Misplacing items throughout the house.
- Getting lost in familiar places.
- Repeating stories over and over again.
Relocating to a senior care facility can help alleviate the need to remember day-to-day reminders. With increased care, your loved one also gains increased support in remembering tasks critical to life by professionals.
3. Unable to Maintain Household Responsibilities
Whether your aging loved one lives in a house, condo or apartment, there will be maintenance required to upkeep their home. Though, as they continue to age, it can be more difficult to maintain the basics in order to keep a living situation up and running.
Consider the tasks that will be removed from both your plate as the family caregiver and your loved one:
- General repairs
- Yard work
These activities and more are taken care of on daily, weekly and monthly basis to free up your loved one’s responsibilities.
4. Inability to Drive
There are a variety of reasons, both physical and mental, that can prevent your aging loved one from getting from point A to B. If your senior is unable to drive him or herself or find adequate transportation, they may have difficulty getting to the grocery store, doctor’s office, pharmacy or even social events.
Senior care facilities often provide residents with in-house care, on-site social activities and transportation to a desired location to keep the active, healthy and social.
5. Lack of Caregiver’s Ability
Caring for an aging loved one is an extremely time-consuming task, especially as you care for your own immediate family and perform a 9-5 job. Don’t fault yourself if the responsibility of caregiving has become too burdensome.
Whether it be a change in living situation, job, family or other personal circumstance, your time may be more limited, causing the inability to provide them with the care they need to live the healthiest, fullest life. Remember that senior care facilities can provide aging seniors with a better quality of life.
Helping your aging loved one make the transition to a senior care facility will provide you both with the peace of mind you need to live a quality life.
Additional Resources for Family Caregivers
Caregiving is often a 24/7 job, and with it, we sometimes forget to slow down and take the time to talk with our loved ones. To help you connect with those you care for, we encourage you to download Busch’s Essential Guide to Meaningful Conversation. Packed with 25+ conversation topics and topics, you can have discussions about life’s most important questions, include: “How do you want to be remembered?” with aging loved ones.
Editor's Note: This post was reviewed and approved by O'Neill Healthcare, Northeast-Ohio based nursing home and assisted living provider, for accuracy.