How do you know when it's time for assisted living?

While it can be difficult to make the decision to move to an assisted living facility, it might be the right time for a change. See more healthy aging pictures.

As we get older, small things, such as tying shoes or lifting heavy pots, become more difficult. For many, the big things get tough, too. Being unable to get out of the bathtub, losing their balance while walking, and forgetting whether or not they took their morning pills are threats to a seniors' safety and well-being.

Assisted living, an alternative to nursing homes and home visitation, is an increasingly popular option for seniors who need some help in their daily lives. But how do you know when it's time for assisted living? There are many signs to watch out for if you think it's time for a loved one to move.

First, you may notice your usually fastidious parent has let the house go, leaving objects on the floor that could cause people to trip, neglecting to clean the oven to the extent that it becomes a fire hazard, improperly storing food and risking food poisoning, or neglecting care of a pet. When a senior is unable to keep up with housekeeping, or when it's neglected to the point of becoming unhealthy, it may be time for assisted living.

A move may also be the answer when seniors have challenges with personal care, such as bathing or dressing. Assisted living facilities are designed to make sure regular needs are met, that living conditions are safe, and that chores and responsibilities are taken care of, including keeping up with mail and paying bills on time.

Some seniors may have deterioration in mobility that makes them susceptible to falling and injuring themselves. If they live alone, the mobility challenge becomes more life-threatening, since they may not be able to get to a phone to call for help, and there isn't anyone on the premises to see if they need prompt medical assistance.

Others, such as those with Alzheimer's, could become a danger to themselves as well as others. It's not uncommon for Alzheimer's patients to throw things at or hit caregivers as they become confused or agitated.

Driving skills can worsen, too, as seniors have slower reaction times. They still need to get around to medical appointments and to socialize, but some seniors are dangerous on the road. Assisted living facilities usually offer rides to anywhere a senior may need to go.

Next up, we'll look a little more at how assisted living can be beneficial to a senior's health and well-being.