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These questions can help you decide if your loved one needs more care than they can get at home.

Deciding when it’s time to move into an assisted or independent living facility can be difficult. Older adults often want to maintain their independence so they may be reluctant to go. Some may be making the decision for themselves while others are often encouraged to move by loved ones. But how do you know when the time is right to transition a person from a place they have called home for many years to an assisted or independent living residence?

Here are some questions to ask that may help you decide if it’s time to make that move:

Can the person manage life on their own? Very often the decision to move into assisted living is made when a person has difficulty managing activities of daily living on their own. This may include tasks like bathing and showering, dressing, toileting, preparing or eating meals and managing medications.

Is the person having difficulty caring for a spouse? In some cases, one person needs extra help or care but the person’s spouse is still able to be independent. However, the independent person may no longer be able to care for his or her spouse. When that occurs, a decision may be made for both adults to move so they can continue to live together.

Is the person experiencing physical or cognitive decline? As people age, they may not be able to do the things they used to do. Mobility, eyesight and hearing may be impaired. The person may experience chronic health issues that put them at risk of falls or serious illness. Or the person may be experiencing mild cognitive decline or early stages of dementia which causes them to forget important things, like taking their medication or turning off the stove.

Is the person experiencing loneliness? If a person is living alone and it is not easy for them to get out to socialize with others, they may be very lonely. Social isolation and loneliness put seniors at serious risk of chronic illness and early death. Living in an assisted or independent living facility gives seniors access to opportunities to make social connections. Often, people eat in a central dining room with other residents. There are a variety of activities available and there are staff members to encourage participation and connection with others.

If you have decided that it’s time for a loved one to leave their home, the next decision is determining whether it would be best for them to move to an assisted or independent living residence. The two terms are often used interchangeably but they are not entirely the same. Typically, an assisted living facility helps residents with activities of daily living while allowing them to live as independently as possible. Independent living primarily serves the social needs of residents who don’t need much support and can live independently. It may provide some added services, but not everyone needs them.

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Date Last Reviewed: July 20, 2023

Editorial Review: Andrea Cohen, Editorial Director, Baldwin Publishing, Inc. Contact Editor

Medical Review: Perry Pitkow, MD

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