Is it time for assisted living?

By Curt Werner


Assisted living and other types of senior communities exist for good reason. They fill a distinct need for those who require a degree of help with certain important aspects of their daily lives. While remaining home is attractive to most, those who are able to afford senior living benefit from many benefits of seniors housing. These include and are not limited to the consistent fulfillment of three essentials: nutrition, medication and socialization. In addition, residents may receive help with activities of daily living or ADLs, things like personal hygiene, bathing, going to the bathroom, getting dressed or just an arm to lean on for trips to the dining room. These all bring an extra measure of security and peace of mind that comes with a good assisted living community.


Your loved one might be afraid or unable to drive, even during the day, which limits trips to the supermarket, and in turn adversely affects healthy eating. Recruiting and then relying on friends, neighbors or even you for regular grocery shopping or visits to the doctor can be a fraught strategy. Families commonly depend on others for critical tasks like these but very often even the most well-meaning good Samaritans grow tired of the extra dependence. And, when you think about it, the added responsibility placed on them isn’t completely fair.


Medication management may be another area of concern. On your recent holiday visit, you may have discovered that your Dad isn’t consistently taking his blood pressure medications, hasn’t refilled his prescription in months, or may be taking his daily pills improperly. Either way, medication non-compliance poses a real threat to his well-being.


There are other signs to watch for: you may have noticed that your once-meticulous Mom is now living in an untidy place that needs a multitude of repairs. You may have found that she hasn’t seen a doctor in two years and the dress she wears has several obvious stains.


Another important factor you may have overlooked is the adverse effect of isolation. Clinical studies have shown that long-term seclusion can increase the incidence or severity of dementia, particularly in older populations. Ask Mom what she does all day and if her answer is that she rarely goes out, sleeps or watches TV alone most of the time, that’s a strong indication that she could use some socialization (and possibly other attention). The better senior living communities have scheduled, stimulating, professionally run daily activities that can make a big difference in her attitude, and conceivably relieve her dementia a bit.


If any of these warning signs sound familiar, it’s probably time to have a serious talk with your loved one. After that, a call to Navamaze will help get the ball rolling. Not to be morbid, but the alternative could be catastrophic. It’s far less costly to live in a pleasant assisted living community than to suffer the effects of a fall or a serious illness and end up in a skilled nursing facility. Money aside, that’s an outcome no one wants.