In an ideal scenario, we would all grow all with grace; our health would remain and we would just peacefully go in our sleep. But, reality is usually much different for many elderly people. While some can go on into their 90’s or beyond living independently, most begin to decline to a degree that this independence is no longer possible. In many cases, children or other relatives take on a caregiving role, and the loved one moves in with the caregiver.
As health declines, the needs of your loved one grow greater, and you may not have the time, resources or skill to provide the level of care required. If round-the-clock care is not necessary, an assisted living facility may be better able to meet your loved one’s needs. Here are some signs to watch for that it may be time to begin seriously exploring this option.
Increased Difficulty in Performing Daily Living Activities
As we age, we naturally may have more difficulty doing certain things—maybe we can no longer drive or exercise quite as vigorously as we used to. But, when problems with performing even the most basic tasks of daily living become difficult, their health, safety and overall well-being can be put in serious jeopardy. As a caregiver, tending to an adult who is basically helpless to dress, shower, cook their own food or groom themselves, can become a full-time job. A job that you may not have time for because you work, or are still raising your own children.
Worsening of a Chronic Health Condition
If your loved one suffers from a serious condition, such as Alzheimer’s or COPD, their health needs can be extensive. The type of care they require may not be something you are adequately skilled to provide. It may be safer for them to be in an environment where medical professionals are always close by. If your loved one is suffering from Alzheimer’s for example, tendency to wander can put them in danger, while violent outbursts can put you or your family in danger. Being a caregiver to someone with serious health problems can be all-consuming and highly stressful. You may feel like it is your responsibility to take care of a parent or other family member, but an assisted living center is better equipped when someone is in seriously poor health.
Your Own Quality of Life Is in Serious Decline
When deciding on whether to place your loved one in assisted living, your own mental and physical state is an important consideration, and perhaps, the most important of all. We can feel a strong sense of duty, obligation and guilt when it comes to caring for elderly loved ones. Many people spout the line that your parents took care of you, now it is your turn to take care of them. But, caring for a child and caring for seriously ill adults are two completely different things. Caregiving can become all-consuming and depression is a common occurrence; and understandably so since this role can overpower and completely destroy the life you once had. Marriages can be torn apart, you may neglect you own children and physical health can be compromised.
We often think of these facilities as places where those whose families do not love them go; sure, this may be the case sometimes, but for the most part, people are using these facilities because they are the best option. Considering an assisted living facility does not mean you do not love your parent or grandparent. You need to consider your own well-being and happiness. At some point, the sacrifice becomes too much and it is not fair to you or your own family. If caring for your loved one is causing your own life to fall apart at the seams, this is a good sign that something needs to change.
Kelli Cooper is a freelance writer who blogs about various elder care issues.