It’s probably the most common question we hear at Hearthstone: “How do I know when it’s time for my Mom (or Dad) to move into a senior living community?”
The answer is different for every senior, and for every adult child who is struggling with the realization that a parent may no longer be able to live independently.
While your parent is likely to have strong feelings about moving, there are other important factors to consider. These include how well your loved one is managing at home, his or her current physical and mental health, and what medical needs may arise in the future.
It isn’t always easy to pinpoint exactly when staying at home is no longer the best option. Taking an objective look at the bigger picture can help guide you in making the decision.
Watch for the signs
Here are six key things to regularly assess when an elderly parent is living on his or her own:
- Social Isolation
Spending time with friends and staying socially active does more than enhance a senior’s enjoyment of life — it can also have a positive impact on health and well-being. Isolation is a serious issue, especially if your loved one no longer drives. If your parent isn’t interacting with friends and family, or seems to have lost interest in social activities, take note.
- Declining Health
Poor nutrition, mobility challenges, even taking the wrong dose of medication can all impact your senior’s well-being, turning manageable conditions into serious ones. Health risks can also increase after a heart attack or stroke. Watch for both rapid and gradual declines in health, and talk to your loved one’s doctor if you’re concerned.
- Difficulty with Daily Tasks
Declining physical or mental abilities can impact your senior’s ability to run a household. Are the yard and home as well-kept as they used to be? Are pets receiving good care? Are healthy meals being prepared and eaten? If daily tasks are being neglected—or your loved one is asking you for help much more frequently—he or she may be finding it hard to manage living independently.
- Personal Care
Is your parent having trouble bathing, grooming or dressing? Are they wearing clean clothing and regularly doing laundry? It can be difficult or embarrassing to ask for help with personal care activities, so watch for changes in appearance such as body odor, repeatedly wearing the same outfit, or unkempt hair.
- Memory Loss
There’s a difference between occasional forgetfulness (leaving a cell phone at home when running an errand) and serious memory problems (repeatedly asking the same questions or getting lost on the way to a familiar location). If your loved one is unable to focus or is showing signs of memory decline, consider these behaviors a red flag.
- Caregiver Stress
Being the primary caregiver for a loved one can cause an unhealthy level of stress to build up — and the resulting physical, emotional and financial toll can lead to burnout. It’s important to weigh your own well-being and stress level as factors in the decision to seek out a senior living community for your parent.
Start the discussion
Honesty, kindness, and compassion are the keys to discussing the subject of transitioning to a senior living community. It’s possible your parent will object, and want to maintain his or her independence. Acknowledge that desire, but share your concerns about your loved one’s safety and well-being.
Most seniors don’t want to be a burden to their adult children, so focusing on the positives of a senior community and the peace of mind it will bring the family may help with overcoming resistance. Both of our Hearthstone communities are designed to provide residents with a reassuring balance of support, care, and personal independence.
Sooner or later?
The transition to a senior living community is almost always easier, and a more positive experience, when it’s made sooner rather than later. Of course, there’s going to be an adjustment period, but most seniors quickly come to appreciate the carefree living, personal support, and new opportunities for socializing that a senior community brings.
In fact, the most common refrain among our new Hearthstone residents is, “I wish I’d moved here sooner!”
Because there are many living options available, it’s never too early to start doing your research. Check out different communities online to get a sense of their culture and amenities. Once you’ve narrowed them down, plan to tour those that best fit your senior’s needs.
You will get a distinctive “feel” the moment you step inside a community, but go beyond your intuition by asking questions, seeing the amenities, and staying for a meal. Talk with current residents, take part in an activity, and step outside to explore the grounds and get a sense of the neighborhood.
Even if your loved one isn’t quite ready to make the move now, it’s a good idea to get your name on a waiting list. Then, when the time is right, you won’t have to deal with the stress of trying to find a place under pressure (At Hearthstone, a refundable waitlist deposit ensures your spot on the waiting list and allows you to pass any apartment opening to the next person on the list, without losing your spot).
Hearthstone is here to help
Locally based and family operated, Hearthstone Senior Living communities have a genuine heart for serving seniors and their families. Our caring staff is here to help guide you and your loved one into this next exciting chapter of life.
If you have any questions or concerns, please call. And when you’re ready to take the next step, we invite you to come in for a personal tour and lunch, and see all that life at Hearthstone has to offer.
12520 SW Hart Road
Beaverton, OR 97008
10880 SW Davies Road
Beaverton, OR 97008