Mason Experts Offer Tips for the Holiday Season: When to Consider Assisted Living

Posted: December 15, 2005 at 1:00 am, Last Updated: November 30, -0001 at 12:00 am

By Lori Jennings

Andrew Carle
Andrew Carle
Creative Services Photo

For many adult children, a long-awaited trip home to visit elderly parent(s) may be shocking for those whose parents’ health has deteriorated.

For those wondering if their parents can continue living on their own, Andrew Carle, director of George Mason’s program in assisted living and senior housing administration, offers “warning signs” that may indicate a need to seek additional in-home help or a quality assisted living provider.

Safety and quality of life warning signs might include, among others:

  • A parent who has fallen recently and/or frequently.

  • Outdated, or more importantly, unopened prescriptions in the medicine cabinet.

  • A significant drop in weight would be an obvious sign. But even eating plenty of food can be a problem if it only includes grilled cheese sandwiches for breakfast, lunch and dinner.

  • Dealing with cognitive deficits, such as signs of Alzheimer’s or other forms of dementia. Many elderly can mask these symptoms in their own homes. Go for a drive or walk and note signs of confusion or disorientation. Long-term memory will last longer, so in addition to sharing “old family stories,” ask them what they’ve been up to the last few months – and listen for details.

  • A home showing signs of disrepair or lack of cleanliness. Can they still (safely) drive? Are they able to manage/pay their bills in a timely fashion? Review their checkbooks and/or bank statements.

  • If your parent is more withdrawn or less amiable than normal for them, don’t assume they are “just tired.” Fifty percent of all depressed people are over the age of 65. Often this is the result of being unable to simply participate fully in the world. Ask them if they are enjoying their retirement or wished anything was different.

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