With all the talk about National Skilled Nursing Care, you might be wondering how to know when it’s time for the transition to a long-term care facility. If your parents live alone, you probably worry about them constantly. You visit them and make sure they have what they need, but it’s nerve-wracking to know they’re alone. How do you know when it’s time for full-time care?
The first thing you need to know is that a nursing home, or long-term care facility, is probably not necessary right away. While these facilities provide excellent care, Medicare doesn’t cover long-term care. If your parent is on Medicaid, their stay will be covered, but for non-Medicaid patients skilled nursing facilities can cost a pretty penny. Less expensive options are home health aids or assisted living facilities. Another benefit to those arrangements are that your loved one still maintains some level of independence. Yet another option is continuum of care communities like Bridgeway Senior living. In a previous article we discussed the unique benefits of continuum of care communities as opposed to traditional assisted living or home health care.
Seniors who live alone may want to cling to their independence, even as their health and abilities are failing. They may not tell you if they can’t take care of their hygiene, housekeeping, or health needs. Be sure to visit as much as your schedule allows so you can see their living situation for yourself. Pay attention to these warning signs that something is not right:
1. Difficulty walking
If your notice your parents seem to stay put in their chairs more often, it could be a warning sign that their mobility is decreasing. They could be tired or have muscle weakness. Sometimes just using a cane or walker can help seniors get around. In other cases, your parent’s mobility issues may be so severe they can no longer live alone.
2. Unpaid bills
Occasionally forgetting to pay a bill is normal as we age, and probably isn’t a problem. However, it’s a red flag if your parent consistently misplaces or forgets about bills. If they’re getting their utilities shut off due to lack of payment, or you see unpaid bills around the house, consider it a warning that Mom or Dad can’t keep up. They may just need some help with bookkeeping, or they might be ready to move to an assisted living facility, where all their bills are taken care of.
3. Neglected hobbies
Are your mom’s plants withering and dying? Are there unread newspapers around the house? When you notice your parents neglecting the daily activities they used to enjoy, it may be a sign of depression or confusion. Check on them more often to determine whether or not they can live alone.
4. Poor housekeeping
If you notice your parents’ home is much messier than normal, this could mean they can’t keep up with cleaning. They may lack the energy or find it painful to clean. If you notice sudden messy habits in your usually orderly parent’s routine, it may be the first signs of dementia.
5. Weight loss
Many seniors have trouble cooking regularly. If your parent is no longer cooking and eating nutritious food, they can lose weight quickly. If you notice your parent suddenly seems thinner than usual, ask them what they’ve been eating. If they can no longer cook, you may want to hire a housekeeper, purchase meals for them, or discuss moving to an assisted living community.