nurse giving food to senior woman

Adult children often feel caught between a rock and a hard place. Their parents have been calling the shots, either directly or subliminally, since birth. But now, as grown children with aging parents, there is often a time of role-reversal, which is understandably confusing and perhaps more than a little frightening!

On the one hand, we prefer parents to remain as independent as possible and live their own unique lives with dignity … yet, as much as we wish for that to happen, we cannot help noticing the erosion of their ability to “maintain life as usual.” How can we know when to step in and when to leave things alone?

Assisted Living Assessment

Professionals usually will do an assessment to understand how well an older adult can perform day-to-day activities, commonly referred to as “ADLs” (for Activities of Daily Living). This includes evaluating how capably individuals can manage these tasks:

  • Bathing (cleaning themselves in a bath or shower)
  • Dressing (getting dressed and choosing appropriate clothing) 
  • Toileting (going to the bathroom)
  • Transferring (the ability to get in and out of bed)
  • Continence (bladder and bowel control)
  • Eating (feeding themselves, including handling utensils, swallowing, proper nutrition)

However, besides these primarily physical tasks, to truly be safe to live independently, adults also must manage some basic functions such as grocery shopping and preparing meals, cleaning the house, paying bills, driving or otherwise accessing transportation, and maintaining social connections. So, how will you know if it's time for assistance?  You might ask yourself (and your parent!) a few simple questions.

5 Signs It’s Time for Assisted Living

  1. Poor hygiene — Observe whether clothes have spots or stains or if it seems that towels and sheets have not been laundered  Check for frequent messy hair or body odor, dirty hands, and nails. Is your parent neglecting their body, their hygiene?
  2. Messy home — Check to see whether the dishes, laundry, magazines, and newspapers are piling up. Does the kitchen/bathroom look dirty and has the vacuum been run? Are there obstacles that create a fall risk? Are the foods in the refrigerator or pantry past their expiration date?
  3. Unpaid bills — Look for the pile of bills and other mail, which can be overwhelming for some older adults. You may need to ask: are credit cards, utilities, and insurance plans paid up-to-date? Are there signs that late fees are being added to accounts?
  4. Isolation — Has your parent been out of the house and spent time with friends or social organizations and/or are they still attending concerts or worship services, if they did so in the past?  Isolation is an epidemic and a serious health risk for older adults.
  5. Frail or declining health — Is your parent dealing with a chronic medical condition, and are they taking their medications as prescribed? Is there persistent illness or a cough that just doesn’t go away?

Learn more about our daily safety and wellness check-ins. »

If you notice alarming answers to even a few of the above questions, then it’s probably time to investigate the benefits of assisted living. A senior living community like Kendal at Granville can provide the full spectrum of long-term care services, daily activities, socialization and lots more.


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