Caregiving is a huge responsibility, and many children, relatives and close friends do it every day for the people they love.
But often this responsibility can take a huge toll on caregivers, both physically and emotionally. There comes a time when every caregiver needs more assistance, or needs to seek outside help to provide the best care possible for a loved one.
Assisted living facilities exist for this reason. Though it can be extremely difficult to decide to move an aging parent or grandparent into a care facility, in many cases it’s the best decision for their health and well-being—and for that of the caregiver.
But how do you know when it’s time to do this? Here are five signs for when it’s time to move a loved one into an assisted living facility.
Some seniors with dementia often display more aggression as their mental functions begin to change. They may become more verbal and physically aggressive, and in turn, a caregiver may begin to feel more resentful or fearful of their behavior. Seniors with Alzheimer’s disease also experience a condition called “sundowner syndrome,” in which they become more agitated later in the day. When a situation gets to this point and causes severe stress for both a senior and caregiver, it may be time for you to consider an assisted living facility for your loved one.
Whether your parent or grandparent lives with you or alone, you may notice physical changes that signal he or she needs more specialized care.
Unexplained weight loss or frailness may be a sign that your loved one is not getting the proper nutrition or may have a more serious illness. He or she may not be going grocery shopping or regularly cooking. If you suspect this may be the case, check their refrigerator and talk to your loved one about what he or she has been eating. Also, check to see if your loved one can walk steadily and maintain their balance. As we get older, our bones often become weaker and we lose muscle strength, so eating a proper diet with plenty of calcium is particularly important for older people. If you’re concerned about your loved one’s weight loss or strength, take him or her to the doctor to make sure there isn’t a more serious underlying issue.
And just as weight loss can be a concern, so can significant weight gain. Many things cause unexplained weight gain, but in older people dementia, diabetes and injury are a few things to look out for. If you notice your loved one starts to behave differently or their diet has changed dramatically, talk to them about what is happening and see a health care provider to get more information. Once you have all the facts, you can make the best decision about whether you need more help caring for your loved one.
Seniors with Alzheimer’s and dementia may begin to wander as these health conditions advance. This poses a huge safety risk and caregiving burden because they require 24/7 care and supervision. An adult child or relative cannot sustain this caregiving responsibility long term, especially if they have other family or work obligations. Plus, the stress this causes isn’t healthy for the caregiver or their loved one. In these situations, assisted living often is the best option.
Changes in relationships and social activities also may signal that it’s time to seek more help with caregiving. If your loved one is withdrawn, never leaves the house, gives up their hobbies or stops socializing with friends, this should cause concern. Research has shown that having friends and family around has a positive effect on mental health. These people also are an important support system for a caregiver, helping to keep an eye on a loved one when you aren’t able to. When these connections no longer exist, it could affect your loved one’s overall health and safety.
More Health Care Needs
If your loved one’s health care needs have become so great that they are beyond your abilities, it may be time to consider assisted living. As I mentioned before, seniors with advanced Alzheimer’s and dementia require 24/7 care and most—if not all—caregivers are unable to provide this level of care. For the sake of your health and that of your loved one, assisted living is the best caregiving solution.
Making the decision to seek assisted care for a loved one is never easy. As a caregiver, you do the best you can every day. But sometimes our loved ones need more than what we can give them. Pay attention to the signs I previously mentioned. If you notice that your loved one exhibits any of these behaviors, talk to a doctor and get more information about whether assisted living may be the best option for him or her. The health professionals at MetroHealth are your partners in health care, and are here to assist you with your questions and concerns to make sure you and your loved one get the best care possible. Contact us today for more information or to schedule an appointment.