July 20, 2020

Exploring Senior Care Part 1 of 3: When is it Time for Assisted Living?

Exploring Senior Care Part 1 of 3: When is it Time for Assisted Living?

Taking care of our senior loved ones may be one of the most challenging responsibilities we face. Part of this responsibility is determining whether or not your loved one would benefit in an assisted living and memory care community. That decision can keep you up late at night.

While obvious signs like increased frequency in falls can help more easily identify a need, rarely is it a straightforward science. To help combat that anxiety, we have put together a guide for you to use to help determine when the time is right.

There are six main categories that make up activities of daily living (ADL). Based on how your loved one can accomplish each of these activities, health care professionals are able to assess the amount of care needed.

To calculate your loved one’s ADL score, mark a “1” for each activity they can complete on their own. If they cannot complete an activity, mark a “0.” Add up the total. A lower score means the less independent they are able to live. For example, a senior scoring 1 or 2 will need a lot of care and attentiveness.

Click here to view the Katz chart to compute your loved one’s ADL score.

Other, less routine, but just as important tasks, called instrumental activities of daily living (IADL) include:

  • Paying the bills
  • Cleaning the house
  • Cooking food for yourself
  • Being able to transport yourself outside of the house
  • Socializing

To calculate your loved one’s IADL score, use the Lawton-Brody scale linked here.

Beyond this, there are other warning signs to pay attention to in order to determine if your loved one is ready for an assisted living and memory care community. Depressed seniors or those with dementia and other severe illnesses will need more care.  Over 1 in 10 patients who need care show signs of depression. The following signs can help indicate the need for professional help without ever needing to consult the Katz chart.

– Worsening Medical Conditions: According to the AARP, more than 70 million people aged 50+ have at least one chronic medical condition like Alzheimer’s disease or heart disease. In addition to these chronic conditions, the risk or potential for medical emergencies increases among elderly adults. Nearly one-third of seniors fall at least once every year.

– Monetary Issues: Many seniors lack the motivation to pay their bills or no longer have the cognitive ability to pay them. This is especially true for dementia patients, as the disease makes it harder to handle numbers or problem solve for things like multiple bills or doing their taxes. This can lead to an increased susceptibility for financial scams which put seniors in a financial situation that is difficult to recover from.

– Isolation: More than 11 million seniors live alone. This leads to a decrease in hobbies and social interactions which can then lead to other health issues like depression and addiction.

– Messy Living Space: Untidy and odorous-smelling homes and rooms can indicate the lack of ability to care for oneself. Look at the food in your loved one’s pantry and fridge. Is it spoiled or expired? This can indicate either the lack of the ability to cook for themselves and/or a generally unhealthy diet.

– Poor Hygiene: Poor hygiene, like messy grooming habits or poor odor, could indicate the need for assisted living due to lack of motivation or inability to bathe or do laundry. In general, poor hygiene indicates the inability to care for oneself. Similar to this, do not forget to check in on your loved one’s pets. Difficulty caring for them might be a sign of poor mobility or cognitive problems.

There are also “classic scenarios” to watch out for like the death of a spouse that had previously taken responsibility for the housework, meals and/or shopping. The surviving spouse may struggle with isolation or being able to take care of themselves and the home. Chronic medical problems or exhibiting signs of memory loss are another common scenario that leads to assisted living.

If you determine that your loved one can no longer fully care for themselves, it becomes time to select the right type of care. Knowing your options about different types of care can help you find a community that not only allows your loved one to live comfortably, but improves their quality of life as much as possible. Learn about the different type of care communities here.

With our specialized knowledge, the Cross Creek team can help you make informed decisions regarding the care of your loved ones. We are also offering virtual tours or socially distanced, in-person tours if you feel your loved one is ready for the next step. Call us at 316.393.1614 to get one scheduled!


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