If you see your parent on a regular basis, it can be hard to notice the subtle changes in mental acuity that may indicate they are losing the ability to live on their own. In other cases, your parent may be physically and mentally sharp as ever, but retreating into seclusion due to the loss of a spouse or retirement from a muchloved career. Social disconnection is a real risk for many seniors and being relatively isolated can hasten a senior’s mental and physical decline.
Becoming part of a senior living community can provide both tangible and intangible benefits for seniors. Read on for some of the signs that your parent may benefit from transitioning from independent to community living.
Escalating Care Needs
Many parents are reluctant to ask their children for help, even children who have been adults for decades. Because of this, the telltale sign of escalating care needs is often not the ask, but the tell. You may notice your parent seems to have a tougher than normal time handling various aspects of self-care (like cooking, doing the laundry, or bathing).
These escalating care needs can sometimes quickly outstrip your ability to help, especially if you live far from your parent or otherwise aren’t able to drop in on a regular basis. A senior or assisted living community can provide your parent with the services they need (like a grocery shuttle or even delivered meals) in a supportive, friendly environment.
Getting Lost or Wandering
While someone who has always had a terrible time following directions isn’t likely to gain an internal compass with age, if you notice your parent getting lost more frequently, this can be a sign of degenerative memory issues.
More advanced stages of dementia, including Alzheimer’s disease, can lead your loved one to begin wandering at night—sometimes without proper clothing, identification, or a way to summon help. Since six in ten adults with dementia are known to wander, it can be important to put some precautions in place as soon as you begin to notice the early signs of memory loss.
It can be nervewracking to know that your parent is driving even without always knowing where they’re going. A senior living community can largely eliminate the need for a driver’s license, giving your parent access to food, entertainment, medical care, and housekeeping services within a walkable area.
Aggression or Changes in Personality
One of the earliest signs of memory loss or a chronic health condition for seniors can be sudden and unexplained anxiety, depression, euphoria, or other strong and uncharacteristic emotions. If your once evenkeeled parent can no longer carry on a conversation without going into an angry rant, or if your extroverted parent begins turning down plans left and right, they may be dealing with a physical or neurological problem that’s changing their behavior.
For some, conditions as common and easily treatable as a urinary tract infection (UTI) can cause agitation and memory loss. Having access to senior-specific healthcare services can minimize the risk that a UTI will go undiagnosed while seeing the same people on a regular basis can provide your parent with a good baseline for others to observe any notable changes in behavior.
Chronic Health Issues
Few seniors can glide into their golden years without treating or medicating some type of chronic condition, from high cholesterol or blood pressure to diabetes or kidney disease. While it’s quite possible to manage a chronic health issue while flying solo, many seniors with health conditions prefer the peace of mind that an onsite staff physician and emergency medical services can bring.
If your parent can be reluctant to seek medical treatment for even serious conditions, having convenient and excuseproof access to medical care becomes even more important. Someone who might have adopted a “wait and see” approach while living on their own can be far more willing to visit a doctor when the doctor is steps from their front door.
Social disconnection can lead to depression and other serious problems, but it’s all too common among seniors. The 2011 U.S. Census revealed that nearly one in every three American adults over the age of 65 lived alone. Many seniors who live solo still have active social lives, but if they’re not making efforts to cultivate and maintain a variety of personal relationships and participate in social activities, they could quickly find themselves in a rut.
Moving into a senior living community can provide a builtin sense of belonging, giving seniors access to a wide range of activities and events while allowing as much privacy and independence as the resident prefers. Many senior living communities have onsite gyms (including group exercise classes and strength training equipment), heated swimming pools, and even spa services. These perks can get even the most introverted seniors out to mingle with their neighbors, forming new connections and friendships.
Disheveled Appearance or Minimal Hygiene
If your parents have never made a practice of dressing up for visits with their kids, it can be easy to write off observations like stained shirts, missed buttons, or a permanent fiveo’clock shadow as part of the laid-back retirement lifestyle. But when you notice that your parent frequently appears disheveled in public or seems to be having trouble keeping up with their basic hygiene, this can indicate they may need some extra help going forward.
An Empty Refrigerator
If you tend to be the type who plans their days around meals, the idea of forgetting to eat may be a laughable one. But memory loss can often leave its sufferers without much of an appetite or even without the attention span to fix a full meal. If your parent has begun subsisting mostly on crackers or candy bars instead of keeping up with regular grocery trips or has started losing weight without trying, he or she may benefit from a senior living community that provides shopping services and even prepared meals upon request.
Suggesting to the person who raised you that it may be time for them to move to a retirement community can be an awkward and challenging conversation. But all too often, this conversation is a necessary one—both for your parent’s comfort, health, and happiness and for your peace of mind.
Life at Cambridge Village of Apex, North Carolina, goes beyond retirement living. By focusing on improving every aspect of our residents’ lives, we create Optimal Living. We aim to make every resident feel welcome, provide them with opportunities to build friendships, and help them find a niche where they belong. Experience the new retirement at Cambridge Village of Apex, North Carolina. Contact us to schedule a tour of our senior living community or give us a call today (919) 363-2080.