When caring for seniors, it’s always advisable to avoid surprises and sudden changes whenever possible. That’s why it’s important to anticipate the signs that indicate it’s time to consider the option of assisted living – and also to plan ahead about how the transition will be handled when that time arrives.

“It’s always best to include seniors in the planning for their future as much as possible,” said Lea Ann Coates, Residency Counselor at Bethesda Hawthorne Place, Bethesda’s newest, state-of-the-art assisted living and memory support community in the St. Louis area. “Now is the time to talk to them about what they would like to do when they are unable to stay in their home without help.”

Thinking ahead

Waiting until a senior’s health declines because of age, injury or other conditions to discuss their options can be a traumatic and pressure-packed experience. It can also be risky for a person who is in need of assistance to be left without enough support for too long.

“No one wants to have to make a decision in an emergency or a high-pressure situation,” Lea Ann said. “If the senior and their family can evaluate their circumstances before a crisis arises, they will feel a lot better about the choices that are made. While change causes a bit of apprehension, seniors tend to become quite comfortable in an assisted living situation once they get used to their new surroundings and take advantage of the amenities that are available to them.”

Knowing the signs that your loved one may need assisted living care helps start the conversation. Remember, although this may be a difficult subject to approach, it will benefit both you and your senior loved one.

6 Signs that your loved one may need assisted living

  1. Neglecting personal hygiene, including bathing and shaving regularly and wearing dirty clothes
  2. Falling behind in housework and home maintenance, seeing a sink full of dishes or an overgrown yard
  3. Forgetting things like taking medications, remembering appointments and turning off household items like the stove
  4. Neglecting household tasks, paying their bills or buying fresh groceries
  5. More frequent balance issues and difficulties walking
  6. Frequent visits by emergency responders

Fear of the unknown

Seniors are often reluctant to move out of their long-time home because they’re apprehensive about the unknown. By planning ahead, your loved one’s mind can be put at ease in many ways.

“People sometimes have an image in their head about what senior living was like 30, 40 or 50 years ago, but things have changed tremendously for the better since then,” Lea Ann said. “People who live at Bethesda assisted living communities have their own personal space with as much privacy as they want. They have a lot more social opportunities with people they have things in common with living all around them, and they don’t have to worry about things like maintenance and repairs.”

They also have the security of living among people who are there to support them, according to Lea Ann. There is always help available to assist with medication, transportation needs, and entertainment or simulating activities.

“Making life-changing decisions can be stressful,” Lea Ann said. “Make it as easy as possible by talking to them now about what they would like to do if A, B or C happens. You’ll be glad you did when that time comes.”

Bethesda Hawthorne Place, a 60-bed assisted living residence in Oakland, Missouri, is nearing completion and expected to open in the first half of 2017. Lea Ann said the residence is filling up quickly with more than one-third of its beds already reserved.

For more information about assisted living or Bethesda Hawthorne Place, please call 314-853-2551.