Deciding when to place a parent or a loved one in a long-term care facility can be one of the toughest decisions you ever find yourself facing. How does one recognize when a parent or loved one needs more assistance than you can provide?
Sometimes, the signs are obvious. Perhaps your parent experienced a fall, or they received guidance from their doctor that it may be time to consider the benefits of moving to a care facility. But sometimes those signs are far more difficult to see.
Maybe you noticed that your mom left the stove on or forgot to meet you for your regularly scheduled lunch date. Or, maybe, you’ve noticed that your dad has been forgetting to take his medications a few times a month. It can be easy to dismiss these as “old age” or a simple slip of the mind instead of a slow decline of physical or mental wellbeing.
Here are 4 signs that may help you recognize that it’s finally time to seek long-term care for them.
1. They can’t seem to get or stay organized.
Have you noticed your traditionally neat, and tidy parents have started to accumulate more clutter around their home? Have they begun to misplace their car keys or find themselves forgetting appointments? How about unpaid bills that seem to be piling up?
If you can answer yes to any of these questions, it may be time to have a serious conversation to discuss the possibility of needing more assistance than they are currently receiving. It’s important to have these tough conversations while your loved ones are still cognitively strong as they will no doubt have preferences and particulars that you will want to honor. Let them be a part of the conversation and decision making for as long as they are able to do so.
2. Their hygiene has taken a backseat.
As mental and physical ability declines, it can be difficult for an aging individual to perform the most basic of hygienic tasks. Bathing, brushing teeth, or even putting on deodorant can become a chore to some. Forgetting to perform these simple daily routines can very quickly take a toll on someone’s overall health.
If you begin noticing that mom hasn’t washed or brushed her usually picture-perfect hair in a few days, or dad’s normally pristine ironed shirts appear to be dirty or wrinkled, it may be time to have a tough conversation about the future.
3. They’ve lost interest in their hobbies.
Due to a mental or physical decline, you may notice that your loved ones aren’t participating in the things that they once loved. Maybe mom hasn’t been painting, gardening, or reading with her book club anymore. Maybe dad isn’t fishing, working on the car, or meeting up with his buddies for coffee anymore. A lack of interest in hobbies and increased isolation can all be signs of a loved one’s cognitive awareness declining.
It’s vital that as we age, we continue to engage in stimulating activities to keep our brains active. Not only does this help keep us sharp, it helps stave off depression and feelings of giving up hope. Seeking a long-term care facility that provides daily activities can be life changing to your loved one and help them stay active and engaged for as long as possible.
4. You don’t have the capacity or resources.
Being a caregiver to a loved one with declining health is a monumental responsibility that comes with everything from heartache, financial strain, and added stress to your own mental wellbeing. You really need to take a step back and look at what your strengths and weaknesses are and to weigh the pros and cons of moving your loved into a long-term care facility. What if you are needing to travel out of state for work? What if you aren’t able to take time off of work to dedicate to providing care to an aging parent? Are you able to balance caregiving while maintaining other relationships with family and friends?
It is absolutely vital to have a realistic conversation and to be honest with yourself and loved ones about what you can and cannot commit to financially, and time wise.