Choosing a senior care community is a task that ideally should include several community tours, the chance to ask questions and discuss with family members, and time to make a solid decision. However, some family members find themselves in the midst of a crisis, doing their best to choose a community while sitting in a hospital emergency room. You and your family can reduce the chance of that crisis decision by watching for signs that you or your aging loved one will soon need additional care.
Planning ahead is crucial when it comes to senior care. Not only can it ensure that everyone has the chance to make an educated decision, but planning ahead can also ensure that the senior and family members have talked through different situations and are on the same page. This communication can keep relationships from fracturing in an otherwise stressful situation.
What to Look for
While every senior is unique, there are a few things that aging adults and their family members should watch for as indications of a future need for additional assistance. These red flags include:
- Frequent falls throughout the home
- Confusion regarding medication schedule, or frequently changing medication regimens from the doctor
- Difficulty with daily care tasks like showering, toileting, or dressing
- Choosing not to cook or prepare a meal due to fine motor complications or decreased endurance
- Feelings of loneliness or depression
- Missing out on regular socialization with peers
- A new diagnosis of a chronic and complicated medical condition
- The need for regular and frequent trips to the doctor, clinic, or other office for ongoing medical treatments
- Sudden or consistent weight loss
- Inability to walk unassisted throughout the home
- Living a more sedentary lifestyle than has been the case in the past few years
- No longer driving or no longer having consistent access to transportation services
- Living without daily or regular visits from friends or family who live nearby
- An empty refrigerator or cabinets stocked with processed, not nutritious, food choices
- Feeling anxious or worried while at home alone
If you, or your senior loved one, have experienced any of these indicators in the past few months, it is wise to begin the process of searching for senior living options. While you, or your senior loved one, certainly do not need to move into a senior care community tomorrow, beginning the planning process can give you or your loved one control over the decision.
What to Do Next
To begin your search, first make an appointment with the senior’s geriatrician. This primary care physician already knows you or your senior loved one, and can give excellent guidance on which senior care communities could best serve your or their current and future needs.
After speaking with a doctor, you can begin looking for senior living communities in your desired neighborhood or geographic area that offer the type of care that you, or your loved one, need. Whether it is independent living, assisted living, or memory care, you can find a community that offers those services and start to take tours. These tours are especially important for observing residents and staff members in action, and you should feel free to tour a community more than once. Bring along loved ones or friends that you trust to help you make a decision, and ask if you can eat a meal at the community or attend a social event.
Remember, the more time you give yourself to make a decision about a senior care community, the more you can feel confident that you are making the best choice. Avoid making a decision in a crisis situation by planning in advance and by keeping your eyes peeled for indicators that could point toward a potential issue.