This article was authored by June Duncan of Rise Up For Caregivers


Assisted living facilities can be a huge help to seniors and their families. While it can be tough to acknowledge that your senior loved one needs more care than you can provide, helping them transition to assisted living can improve their quality of life significantly. But how do you determine the best time for this move? Here are a few key factors from Meridian Health Care to watch for and some tips to help you navigate this difficult decision.


Prepare for the Future


Before you broach the subject, it’s important to get an understanding of your loved one’s overall financial picture, including their savings, Social Security, what their home is worth, and whether they have life insurance. According to the National Council on Aging, more than 15 million Americans aged 65 and older are economically insecure, living at or below 200 percent of the federal poverty level. 


If your loved one has a limited income, they may have to sell a life insurance policy or even the family home to have enough money to cover long-term care costs. In the case of selling the home, it makes sense to first complete some upgrades that have a high return on the dollar, such as finishing the basement. With sufficient planning and smart choices when it comes to materials, you can offset the cost of such a complex project, which can run you $39,000 to $53,000 depending on a number of factors like square footage and scope. This isn’t a DIY project, so find a reliable contractor you can trust with executing the plan, and be sure to get at least three quotes.


Watching your senior loved one’s health decline may also prompt you to think about their final expenses and what will happen with their debts when they pass away. Consider purchasing a small life insurance policy to cover any expenses your senior loved one may leave behind. You can buy a special type of life insurance called final expense insurance that will cover funeral arrangements, unpaid medical bills, and other lingering costs. This is a great low-cost option for people who only need a small amount of coverage.


Changes in Health


One of the first indicators that your loved one needs additional help is a decline in general health. If your loved one suffers from worsening chronic health problems, moving them into assisted living can help them access regular medical care to manage pain and slow the progress of their condition. 


Has your loved one fallen recently? Frequent falls are also a sign that your loved one can no longer live on their own safely. Physical decline may also be visible in the rate at which your loved one recovers from illness or injury. If they seem to take a long time to get their health back after being sick, moving into assisted living may improve their health.


Neglecting Self-Care


Self-care is an incredibly important factor in our overall quality of life. If your loved one seems to be neglecting their self-care responsibilities, they may need help with their daily living tasks. Are they still cooking, cleaning, doing their laundry, and keeping up with their personal grooming? Are they eating properly? Seniors who develop mobility limitations or mental health issues may have a hard time navigating grocery stores or cooking in the kitchen and often turn to takeout or frozen meals instead.


Social Isolation and Loneliness


Seniors can easily become socially isolated when they lose the ability to drive, a neighborhood friend moves away, or a spouse dies. While you may visit as often as you can, chronic loneliness can still wreak havoc on the health of your senior loved one. In fact, Medical News Today reports that loneliness can increase the risk of dementia by as much as 40 percent. Fortunately, moving into assisted living is a great way to give your senior loved one access to the social support they need!


Talking About the Move


Of course, you can’t move your loved one to assisted living without their approval. Broaching the subject can be tough, but being open and honest with your loved one will pave the way for a productive conversation. If they’re hesitant to talk about it, don’t push them. You can always bring up the subject again at a later date! This is why it’s a good idea to start thinking about assisted living long before it becomes a necessity. 


Transitioning your senior loved one into assisted living will be a very difficult and emotional process—and that’s okay! It’s normal to feel all kinds of emotions during this process, ranging from relief to guilt. Try to remember that you’re doing what’s best for your loved one and that their life will be a lot better when they get the care they need.

The pros at Meridian Health Care provide services ranging from home health, hospice and palliative care to home visiting physicians. Reach out to us today to discover more about our 24/7 services! 847-543-0045