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Resident Director and Resident
July 17, 2019

5 Signs It May Be Time to Look for an Assisted Living Community 

As you reflect on your day-to-day life, or the life of your loved one, you may be wondering if the actions you’re observing—such as more accidents, increase in poor judgement, or difficulty managing day-to-day tasks—are sporadic bouts, or a sign that it may be time to receive additional support such as transitioning to an assisted living community. Check out our list of five signs that show it may be time to consider assisted living. 

Sign #1: Accidents Happen (More Often) 

As we get older, our bodies begin to decline, and minor accidents such as falling become very real concerns. While the occasional accident is common and shouldn’t raise any red flags, multiple accidents or falls within a short period of time should be examined. The cause for the increase may be something as simple as a vitamin B12 deficiency or a clogged ear duct, both of which can be easily remedied by a general physician. However, the cause could also be something more severe, requiring a higher level of care than a caregiver can provide. In that case, it may be time to start looking for an assisted living community.

Sign #2: Increase in Poor Judgment

We all make poor decisions every now and then. However, after making a poor decision, most people look back and think: “Why did I do that?” and learn from their mistake. Recognizing our error, we hopefully don’t make that same mistake again (or at least make it less often). Unfortunately, that is not always the case with an elderly loved one. If your loved one has been making poor decisions more frequently—giving out credit card or bank account information to strangers, incorrectly using household appliances, or layering on clothing to sit outside during a summer day—it may be time to make an appointment with their physician and start looking for an assisted living care community.     

Sign #3: Difficulty Completing Activities of Daily Living 

Activities of daily living (ADLs) include everything from brushing our teeth to putting our shoes on in the morning, and for most people these tasks become second nature. For an older adult who may be in need of an assisted living community, these seemingly elementary daily tasks become challenging, even overwhelming. As a result, an elder may give up on certain tasks.  As a care partner, you may repeatedly tell your loved one that they “need to shower more often” or “change clothes because that’s the same outfit from three days ago.” Your loved one is likely to become frustrated—they may either believe that they’ve already completed the task, or may have forgotten how to do it at all. Assisted living care communities offer an ideal solution for this situation. 

Sign #4: Isolation

Isolation is not uncommon for older adults who are experiencing both cognitive and physical changes. As a family member, you will notice these withdrawal habits long before anyone else does. At this point,  it’s probably time for a heart-to-heart with your loved one. You may believe that your loved one is suffering from depression. However, while depression is not uncommon in older adults, it is not always the correct label for their recent withdrawn behavior. It could be that your loved one is aware that they are undergoing cognitive and physical changes, but they’re having difficulty understanding these experiences. This recognition of changes can cause your loved one to isolate themselves, afraid that others will notice that “something isn’t right with them.” Assisted living care communities provide safe havens for individuals experiencing this issue and a place where they can live with others who are going through similar changes. In an environment designed to cater to their needs, your loved one can begin to thrive.  

Sign #5: Cognitive Decline

Forgetfulness is not the same thing as cognitive decline. For example, forgetting where you left your keys is different than forgetting that you ever had keys in the first place. Cognitive decline is not a natural form of aging. Short-term memory loss, forgetting to take medication, taking too much medication, unpaid or overpaid bills, and hoarding are all byproducts of cognitive decline. Cognitive decline is defined as an actual degeneration and breakdown of brain matter over time. Therefore, we can expect that a person living with cognitive decline will experience not only changes in cognitive functioning, but physiological changes as well. If your loved one is experiencing any of the following symptoms, it may be time to consult a geriatrician or neurologist to determine the best way to care for them. It may be time to start looking for an assisted living care community for specialized care.

Signs of Cognitive Decline:

  • Short-term memory loss 
  • Hallucinations
  • Delusions
  • Personality changes
  • Apathy (losing motivation)
  • Depression symptoms
  • Anxiety symptoms
  • Getting lost (location orientation) 
  • Confusion about visual-spatial tasks (e.g., having difficulty figuring out how to put on one’s shirt) 

If you or your loved one have been experiencing these symptoms, we encourage you to speak with one of our care consultants. We'd be happy to provide insight and support. 

About the Author 

Ryan Muzzey is the life enrichment specialist and manager at Provision Living West County with over 15 years of experience serving the geriatric population. He is certified in Basic and Advanced Alzheimer’s Care through the Alzheimer’s Association, and is also trained as a Certified Dementia Trainer, Person Directed Care Specialist/Trainer, Eden Alternative Associate, and Virtual Dementia Tour Facilitator. Ryan holds a bachelor’s degree in vocal and choral studies from Lindenwood University and truly believes in the healing power of music.