If your senior parents want to age in place, they’re not alone: Three out of four seniors prefer to stay in their home as long as possible.
However, what an aging parent wants and what they need isn’t necessarily the same thing. How can loved ones recognize when aging in place isn’t working out, and how can you convince a senior who is insistent on staying put that they need to move? If you’re concerned about an aging parent living at home, look out for these three signs that it’s no longer safe to age in place.
1. Getting around the house is becoming dangerous
Does it seem like your elderly parents are testing fate every time they walk through the house? Families have a lot of options for aging-in-place remodeling or downsizing to an age-friendly home, but if you’ve taken these steps and your parent is still struggling with mobility problems, it may be time for a much bigger downsize.
2. Your parent is growing confused and forgetful
Mobility isn’t the only factor that determines a senior’s ability to live at home. Cognitive impairment can also make home a dangerous place. Seniors with dementia may forget about food on a stovetop, fail to pay the heating bill in mid-winter, or wander away from home. While many seniors can continue to live at home in the early stages of cognitive decline, more help is needed as dementia progresses.
3. Your parents need help, but there’s no one to provide it.
This is a common problem for seniors with long-distance loved ones. While millions of seniors rely on unpaid family caregivers for help at home, those who can’t are faced with a hefty bill: Full-time home care costs over $4,000 a month on top of a senior’s other living costs.
How to Talk About Senior Living
Often, families recognize the need for help before a senior does. As a result, it’s up to loved ones to broach the senior living conversation. How can you do it sensitively and productively? These tips can help.
1. Understand the senior living options
It’s important to go into the senior living conversation informed so you can focus on the facts. Understand the types of senior living, including assisted living, independent living, memory care, and continuing care retirement communities. While independent living sounds appealing to many seniors, it may not provide enough hands-on care for your loved one. Independent living offers senior-friendly housing and amenities but not the caregiving services found in assisted living. Meanwhile, memory care facilities exclusively serve seniors with dementia, and continuing care communities provide a variety of care levels in one setting.
2. Don’t force the issue
It’s important to understand the options, but that doesn’t mean you should start the conversation talking about assisted living. Instead, discuss the challenges your senior parents are facing at home and how they can solve them. Use examples of other seniors who have hired help or moved to senior living to demonstrate how people you know are managing the challenges of aging.
3. Hear your loved one’s concerns
Even if a senior recognizes assisted living as the right choice, they may have fears about moving. Listen to their concerns and offer reassurance and solutions. For example, you could help find a pet-friendly community, hire a senior move manager to help downsize, or set up a regular time when the family will visit.
Senior Living Resources
To learn more about senior living, turn to these helpful resources:
- Senior services & options: What’s out there?
- How much do different assisted living options cost?
- How to pay for assisted living costs.
- Do health insurance or Medicare cover assisted living?
- Medicaid vs. long-term care insurance: What to know.
Remember that the assisted living conversation may be a long one. It takes time for seniors set on aging in place to come to terms with accepting help. Start the conversation before it’s urgent so your senior parents can get the help they need when they need it.
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