You’ve watched your mother or father age, and it’s been a mixed blessing. Their stories of their childhood (and yours) come tumbling out these days, both poignant and funny—but you notice the voice telling those stories has grown weaker. They have all the time in the world to get around, but they’re slowing down and it’s taking longer to get from point A to point B. They used to be a neatnik, always after you to clean your room, and now it’s you noticing dust on the furniture and other signs they’re not keeping up with housework.
These are all natural signs of aging and they can sneak up gradually. But are they cause for concern?
Should Mom or Dad be in an assisted living community?
Not necessarily. Assisted living communities are designed for folks who need help with what the health care profession calls activities of daily living, or ADLs. ADLs can be basic, such as feeding and dressing oneself and personal hygiene, or instrumental, such as managing medications or finances. When a loved one needs help with these activities—beyond what outside services such as grocery delivery can provide—it may be time to consider a move. Here are seven hidden signs Mom or Dad might be happier, healthier and safer with assisted living:
- A messy medicine cabinet. A peek behind the medicine cabinet door may reveal medicine vials in disarray or pills in the wrong containers. Because many seniors take multiple medications, managing their prescriptions and taking them as directed may become especially challenging as they age.
- The disappearing bank balance. Older people are highly susceptible to fraud. Lots of checks made out to “charities,’ reliance on a “new best friend” for financial advice, or unopened statements from brokerage firms you’ve never heard of are signs Mom or Dad may be losing control of their finances.
- Weight loss or loss of appetite. Although these are signs of poor nutrition, which is also a concern, losing weight and interest in eating are also signs of depression, which can affect the ability to perform many activities of daily living.
- Not doing anything. Social withdrawal (a problem made more prevalent during the pandemic) and loss of interest in former hobbies are also hidden signs of depression. In fact, social withdrawal can bring on depression.
- Brittle/dry hair or ridged nails. These may be signs Mom is having trouble feeding herself. Hair and nails are made up of proteins and are reliable indicators of poor nutrition. Lethargy and irritability are also signs.
- Dents and scratches found on the car or garage. Signs of fender benders or casual references to “always getting lost” are signals driving may be a safety issue for Mom or Dad. If you’re a passenger in their car, watch for lane drifting or straddling as well.
- Your own rising stress levels. Stress sneaks up on us. It’s estimated that 40% to 70% of caregivers themselves suffer from depression. If you notice that your anxiety over your loved one’s safety and wellbeing is increasing—if you’re worried about them—consider that this may be the most telling hidden sign. Listen to what your own body is telling you about Mom or Dad.
Look for the Five Star sign
Five Star Senior Living assisted living communities can take all the stress away for you and your loved one. Our residents are freed from everyday chores and errands and have access to full-service medical resources close to home. And, in addition to help with activities of daily living, Five Star assisted living residents enjoy great food and plenty of social activities and interaction, even during the pandemic. Find out more about Five Star assisted living, and see if there’s a community near you!