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When to Move from Independent to Assisted Living

Growing up and becoming adults in our own right often provides us with the kind of perspective we lacked while children. Suddenly, the way our own parents raised us seems a lot less unfair, especially when we can take those lessons and apply them to raising our own kids.

This often creates a deeper connection between you and your own aging parents. Eventually there comes a point where we find ourselves working to ensure they have the care they needed, much as they did for us back in the day.

This desire to ensure your older parents are receiving the best care possible often extends to the environment our parents live in. If an aging parent of yours is still in your old family home, or even in a retirement or independent living community, there may come a time where their needs and capabilities make it untenable for them to live alone, and the decision must be made of whether they begin transitioning to assisted living.

When is it time to start moving from independent to assisted living? What are the signs that your aging parent may be ready for such a move? And how is such a move handled? Let’s get into it.

The Differences Between Independent and Assisted Living

The first questions to answer are pretty straightforward: What is assisted living? More importantly, how does it differ from independent living and why might it be more appropriate for your elderly parent?

For the sake of this discussion, independent living environments are any situation where a person lives independently. This could be in a house or condo, in an apartment, in a retirement community — the idea is simply that the resident is fully responsible for themselves on a daily basis.

There may be outside help involved. Perhaps a home health aide comes over once a week or even once a day, to help with daily chores and other needs. For the most part, your parent is still participating in independent living.

Assisted living, by comparison, typically takes place in an environment with round-the-clock support available from health professionals and other staff. The focus is on filling the gaps in an otherwise relatively healthy and capable senior’s day-to-day routines. Help with taking medications, getting bathed and dressed, going to and from doctors appointments, ensuring all necessary meals are enjoyed, diabetic care, and other types of care on an everyday basis can fall under the “assisted living” umbrella.

Identifying When to Move From Independent to Assisted Living

Because everyone is different, there are no hard and fast rules for when to move from independent to assisted living. Some seniors stay healthy and active for decades into their retirement, while others may need a little extra help earlier than that.

This often complicates matters, but there are clues that can help you identify when an older parent might be a good candidate for assisted living.

First to look out for are physical changes. Parents exhibiting or complaining of additional fatigue, dizziness, or loss of capability in ways that make everyday tasks more challenging or even dangerous is a clear indicator. A senior parent whose eyesight is worsening to the point where they’re no longer comfortable driving, one that is having trouble climbing stairs easily, or one that might have slipped in the shower are clear warning signs.

Secondly, cognitive changes are also something to look for. These can sometimes be more difficult to spot, as everyone has moments of minor confusion or forgetfulness. When these moments become more frequent or prolonged, and when they start having a serious impact on your parent’s quality of life, it becomes time to consider moving your parent from independent living to assisted living. Pay particular attention to whether your parent is remembering to take their medications and is keeping track of grocery inventory.

Transitioning from Independent Living to Assisted Living

If you feel it might be time for your aging parent to begin transitioning from independent to assisted living, be prepared for the possibility that they may not feel the same way. Your aging parent may not want to move or may not think they need help.

This can be a tricky situation to navigate. If you aren’t already, you can start by having an aide come to the house, which might get your parent used to receiving help and even looking forward to the visit. You can also read our tips for how to talk to an aging parent about transitioning from independent living to assisted living.

To ease the move from independent living to assisted living, you will want to be as caring and involved as you’ve been. That means visiting often, and genuinely listening to their complaints. They are likely scared of the changes they’re experiencing, and they need you there for support. It’s the best thing you can do to help.

Turn to Acts for the Best for Your Older Parent

Acts Retirement-Life Communities is a not-for-profit organization revered for its continuing care retirement, which means retirees move to an independent living location but can transition to assisted living or skilled nursing care on the same campus at any time.

What many don’t realize is that this same great assisted living service is available to non-residents as well.

That means if your aging parent is in need of assisted living, we can assist with the transition and provide exceptional service to ensure they are genuinely well cared for by people who have made it their life’s work.

You love your older parent, and that’s why you want nothing but the best for them. Short of being there for them personally whenever they need it, moving them to a safe and supportive assisted living community is the best way to ensure all their needs are met.

If your parent is showing signs of needing such services, please feel free to explore our exceptional assisted living options.

If your parent can remain independent while they prepare themselves for a day when they might need assisted living or skilled nursing care, explore our 27 independent living locations. These present a unique opportunity of independent living now, but with the promise of additional health services like assisted living if ever needed.

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