Home is such an integral part of our lives that making the decision to move your parent from their home can be emotional and overwhelming. How can you, as the adult child or close relative, be sure that the time is right to make the move to senior housing, retirement homes, assisted living communities, or even nursing homes? Though changes can sometimes be subtle, there are signs you can look for. If you note any of the signs listed below, then special care and planning are needed to help your parent or older relative make the decision that will be best for him or her.
• Be aware of any changes in appearance or grooming. Take special note if your once meticulous mother is no longer wearing make-up or going to the hairdresser. Or, if your father is wearing the same outfit each time you visit. Try to check the clothing hamper or laundry room for signs that clothes are being laundered regularly.
• When you visit, take a look at the different rooms in the house, especially the kitchen, bedroom, or living room. Are these areas clean? Do they look like they are being used regularly? Answers to these questions will give you an idea of how much time, if any, your parent or relative is spending in these areas and if he or she is keeping them clean and tidy.
• Take special note of the yard and outside of the house. Does it appear that your parent is still able to provide regular maintenance? If not, this could be a sign that your parent may not be physically able or may not want to continue to do these tasks.
• Plants and pets can give you clues as well. Your parent or relative’s ability to care for other living things may offer you insight into the ability to manage his or her own care.
• When you have the opportunity, inquire about old friends or social activities. If your parent is no longer active with friends and activities, then isolation could be an issue. Lack of companionship can leave older adults more vulnerable to health issues. Moving to a place with other people and a variety of social opportunities can decrease isolation and possibly improve health.
• Another consideration is how often a parent leaves the house, especially in inclement weather. If he or she is spending days in the house due to fear of driving or fear of forgetting the route, then finding a place that offers regular outings and companionship can keep a parent more active and mobile.
• Finally, consider your own health and stress level. While the decision to move is not primarily about you, as a caregiver, your stress level can be an indicator of your parent’s decline in ability to care for themselves. If this is the case, then it may be a sign to start looking at other options.
If you note any of these signs in your parent or older relative, it may be time for you to do some investigating into housing options. The communities of Retirement Unlimited, Inc. provide a variety of care options to consider. Take a look through the website and review each of our gracious and well-appointed communities. We offer something for everyone!