I have found over my many years of working in the senior living industry that holiday visits are often a wake-up call for adult children who realize their parent isn’t doing all that well living alone. Although it can be tough facing the reality of elderly relatives more frail or forgetful than the last time you visited, it’s a great opportunity to make a change for the better.
Use this checklist to determine whether your parent could benefit from a more supportive living arrangement.
1. Check the mail: The mail offers clues to how your parent is managing money, a common warning sign of cognitive trouble. Look for unopened bills, letters from banks or creditors, or thank-you messages from charities.
2. Give a hug: Clues aren’t always visible from a distance. You might learn more from a hug. Look for obvious weight loss or gain, or increased frailty.
3. Check the medicine cabinet: Individuals over 65 take an average of 14 prescriptions a year and those over 80 more than 19. That’s a lot to keep track of! Medication errors are leading causes of hospitalization in older adults. Look for expired, discontinued or duplicate prescription bottles.
4. Inspect the kitchen: This room is especially revealing. Look for expired perishables, multiples of the same item, a freezer full of frozen dinners, broken appliances, signs of past fire.
5. Walk around the house and yard: Lack of maintenance may mean that your parent needs more help. Look for clutter, lax housekeeping, grimy bathrooms, and signs of neglect.
6. Observe your parent’s social life: Social circles can shrink with age, which can have health and safety implications. Look for signs of isolation: rarely leaving the house, disinterest in activities that were once important, lacking a group of friends to socialize with.
7. Take a drive: Ask your parent to take you out for a spin. Look for dents, signs of being easily distracted, impaired driving, and dashboard warning lights.
Encouraging a parent to move can be stressful for all concerned. Keep in mind that Assisted Living does not mean a loss of independence. Quite the contrary! Assisted Living is designed to maximize autonomy within an environment that provides seniors with choices, celebrates their individuality and allows them to thrive. Your Mom or Dad will enjoy a safe, comfortable, social lifestyle and you’ll spend less time worrying and more time enjoying your times together as you visit.
Reach out to me at Methuen Village Assisted Living and Compass Memory Support with any questions about assisted living. I am happy to guide you through the research process, help sort out financial issues, and provide the information you need so that you can make the best decision for your family.
Greg Batchelder is the Executive Director of Methuen Village an Assisted Living and Alzheimer’s Care Community in Methuen.