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Signs that it’s Time to Consider Senior Living Options – and How to Talk About It

Discussing senior living options with your loved ones can be difficult, but the holidays may be an ideal time to do so. During the season, you find yourself bonding with others more than you do at any other time of the year, leading to mutual feelings of respect, support, affection, and admiration. As you are talking with your friends and family, let your aging loved ones know that you are genuinely interested in how they are feeling and living.  Talk with them about their mental and physical health, and use the time as an opportunity to consider senior living options that will enhance their quality of life.

Signs that it’s Time to Consider Senior Living Options
Sometimes, it’s clear that aging adults need additional care, but in other instances, it is not as apparent. The holidays are an opportune time to pick up on what you may be missing, especially because this is when many seniors grieve over loved ones they have lost in the past. Following are some of the telltale signs that will help you decide if it’s time to consider senior living options.

1. The home is in disarray.
Are the dishes being washed? Is the laundry being done? Is leftover food discarded or refrigerated properly? Is trash disposed of in a sanitary manner? Are the plants being watered?

2. Bills are not being paid.
Is the mailbox full? Are bills strewn about the house in a disorganized manner? Are collection notices being sent to the house?  

3. The adults’ hygiene practices are not what they used to be.
Are they showering, and are they safe showering alone? Are they brushing their teeth and combing their hair? Are they shaving safely?

4. They are losing weight or show signs of vitamin deficiency.
Are they eating properly? Do they appear frail? Are you concerned about their bone health and the possibility of fractures?

5. You fear for their safety.
Do you worry that the home poses too many tripping hazards? Are you concerned about the possibility that they could accidentally hurt themselves with dangerous items in the home, like kitchen knives? Can they move around the house, including up and down stairs? 

6. Their memory is failing.
Do they remember birthdays as they once did? Do they remember to put away food and clean their living spaces? Do they remember how to sing their favorite songs or cook their favorite meals?

7. Their temperament has changed.
Are they sad, angry, or depressed, especially due to stress over the changes they are experiencing? Do you fear that your loved ones could harm themselves or others?

8. They are wandering away and possibly getting lost.
Do your loved ones frequently get lost? Are they wandering away for no apparent reason?

9. Your loved ones need companionship.
Have they recently lost a spouse or their children? Are they neglecting friends or retreating from social situations? Do they have friends? Do they leave the house? Are they still attending church or social functions like they used to? Are they happy?

10. The pets are not receiving the proper care.
Is the litter box being cleaned? Does the dog have food and water? Do the pets seem to be craving attention? Are the pets healthy?

11. The condition or use of their vehicles has changed.
Are there new dents in their vehicles consistent with a traffic accident? Are the vehicles being cleaned and properly maintained? Are they safely driving their vehicles? 

12. You, as the caretaker, need help.
Is the stress associated with taking care of an aging adult affecting your professional or personal life? Are you putting your career at risk? Is your own health failing because you are not taking care of yourself as you should?

The type of senior living that is needed depends on a variety of factors, and these are only some of the signs that it may be time to consider senior living options. Once you decide that it’s time to have this discussion with your loved ones, however, you should know the best ways to do so tenderly and compassionately.

Discussing Senior Living Options with your Loved Ones
As you broach this topic with your loved ones, present it as an opportunity for them to expand their horizons. Discuss the fact that home is a state of mind rather than a structure, so they don’t have to stay within “these four walls” to be happy and comfortable. Tell them that they can learn new hobbies, make new friends, or develop talents they never knew they had. Reinforce the fact that there is so much they can do in the future when they are living in a supportive environment and a social circle. 
Before and during the process of considering senior living options, take the time to explore ideal senior living options. Whether you do so alone or with your loved ones, make sure you review potential senior living communities online to see which ones are best for your family.
Once you narrow down the best senior living locations for your loved ones’ needs, schedule a time to tour them in person. During each tour, ask all the appropriate questions, see all the features you need to see, attend the senior living community’s special events, and sample the food. Play a card game with a current resident, check out the fitness center, and take a moment to sit outside on a private balcony or community garden. 
The better the experience your loved one has, the better all of you will feel when they relocate to their new home.

Seek Additional Information
If you need additional tips on how to discuss senior living options with your loved ones, we are here to help. Our experienced staff can suggest ways that you can talk with your loved ones about this sensitive topic.
In the end, you’ll both realize that senior living may be the best solution for everyone involved.  

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