How to decide if your parent needs assisted living

Placing a parent in an assisted living center is never an easy subject to discuss. It is difficult to accept that your parents are no longer in control of their lives. Some elderly parents may understand why they need assistance while others may not.

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  • Placing a parent in an assisted living center is never an easy subject to discuss. It is difficult to accept that your parents are no longer in control of their lives. Some elderly parents may understand why they need assistance while others may not. Some elders may become resistant with the idea of leaving what they know as home to settle in a facility where they will be monitored. The transition can be overwhelming and intimidating — for the elderly parents and the adult children.

  • Last summer, my mother and her siblings had to make a heart-wrenching decision. After much thought and consideration, they agreed that their father belonged in an assisted living center. As much as he remembered everything from his past, he didn’t remember much of what he'd done during the previous hours. There were times where he finished cooking and forgot to turn off the stove. For many weeks, he would forget to take his medication or shower. His balance was slowly deteriorating which caused him to fall. There were so many different things occurring with him which only assured my mother and her siblings they were making the right decision for his safety and health.

  • Below are six signs that may suggest your parent should be in an assisted living center:

  • Your parent is wearing the same clothing every time you visit

  • This can very well be a sign your parent may be forgetting to bathe or he is under the impression he has showered already.

  • Medicine bottles are untouched

  • When you open the medicine bottle, you notice the same amount of pills remain. Unfortunately, your parent can face health complications if he is not taking the prescribed medicine.

  • Constantly losing balance and falling

  • Check for bruises on the arms, legs or head. Your parent may not admit to falling or may not remember falling.

  • Going out for a walk and not returning

  • One of the scariest things that can occur is a parent leaving the house for an afternoon walk and forgetting how to return home. Your parent cannot ask for help if his memory fails him.

  • Forgetting to eat

  • You ask your parent if they ate and the response is yes. However, when you go visit, you realize that the groceries have not been touched, are spoiled or there are no groceries because he forgot to shop.

  • The apartment or house is not cleaned

  • You notice your parent’s home is in shambles. Your parent has not swept and mopped any of the rooms, the laundry is not put away, or the dishes are not washed.

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  • Before placing an elderly parent in an assisted living center, have a serious discussion with your family members — especially siblings. Together, analyze your parent’s situation and check for signs such as those listed above. Once you and your siblings have reached the conclusion that your parent will benefit from an assisted living center begin a thorough search on potential facilities. Make the necessary calls or visit the facilities. Make sure the center you choose is the right fit for your parent. Then have a discussion with your parent. Explain the situation to the best of your ability. It is normal for your parent to become upset, but remember the decision is for his own good. Continue to show your parent love and support before, during and after the transition. Let them know they are not alone.

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Mayra Colón is a freelance writer, former independent author and avid reader. She holds a MBA from the University of Phoenix and completed the Freelance Writing and Selling Online course from Rutgers University of Arts and Sciences.

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