In just 11 short years, seniors will outnumber children for the first time in U.S. history. By 2030, when the last Baby Boomers are past 65, 20 percent of the population will be retirement age.
While these legions of older adults may want to age in place, remaining in the home they’ve lived in until the end of life, for many, it may become impractical. The older we get, the more likely it is we’ll need some assistance with activities of daily living (ADL).
But that doesn’t mean seniors who have always been independent are necessarily going to ask for help.
One solution is assisted living, which can support seniors to continue living their best life possible within a community of older adults. Assisted living provides help with ADL such as:
- medication reminders
If a senior needs a number of services, assisted living becomes a more economical alternative to home care services. And it means your loved one will continue to be safe at home, because “home” is now part of an assisted living community.
Beyond ADL: Signs It May Be Time for Assisted Living
Your senior loved one may still be managing to bathe, dress, eat, and use the bathroom without problems, but perhaps you’ve noticed some other concerning signs: bills piling up, or your loved one refusing to socialize. Or they may have had a few falls.
These changes could signal the early stages of dementia — or they might indicate the senior is depressed and unmotivated. Social isolation and disconnection pose major health risks for older adults, especially those who live alone.
In fact, a new University of Michigan poll reveals that one in four adults aged 50-80 feels isolated at least some of the time, and a third say they lack regular companionship. Shockingly, more than 25 percent of poll respondents say they have only onesocial contact or less per week with someone outside their home.
It’s also important to monitor chronic health conditions that a senior may have managed more easily when they were younger. If your mother has congestive heart failure, for example, yet managed on her own in her 60s and 70s, you may discover this is no longer true at 80. Or if dad always gave himself insulin injections for his diabetes, his arthritis may now make this more challenging.
AARP reports, “four out of five older adults suffer from at least one chronic condition,” in part due to longer life expectancy and improvements in health care for acute illnesses, which elevates the probability of developing a chronic disease later on.
In short: if your senior loved one is:
- Isolated and lonely
- Having difficulty with basic tasks
- Dealing with a chronic health condition
- Losing weight (either because food shopping and cooking has become too difficult, or because they have little appetite)
- Neglecting the home
- Experiencing early signs of memory loss
- Having frequent accidents, even if minor
- Wandering around outside, seeming confused
… assisted living may be a viable option.
Don’t Fall for That
One of the greatest fears — and risks — for aging adults is falling, and the risk rises the older we become. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), more than one in four Americans 65+ falls each year (but most don’t tell their doctor). Over age 80, this figure jumps to one in two. And falling once doubles a senior’s chances of falling again.
If a senior falls, he or she may:
- Fracture a hip or other bone
- Injure their head or receive a TBI (traumatic brain injury)
Once someone falls, their future quality of life declines, because even if they aren’t physically injured, the fear of falling again causes many seniors to limit their physical activity, which creates a vicious cycle: less exercise leads to weakened muscles and more fragile bones, which leads to a greater risk of future falls.
Assisted living communities such as The Kensington Sierra Madre are designed to prevent falls, with programs that help seniors maintain strength, balance and flexibility as they age. Our community is also equipped with fall prevention design, such as grab bars in bathrooms, handrails in hallways, skid-proof floors, and ample lighting in corridors and private living spaces.
This Little Cough? No Big Deal…
Seniors may brush off a persistent cough or other upper respiratory symptoms as nothing to be concerned about. One woman in her eighties told her daughter not to worry about her constant sniffing: “It’s just post-nasal drip.” Yet this was a sign of inflammation in the body caused by worsening heart disease, which meant her lungs weren’t clearing fluid properly.
When someone lives alone or at home with family, such health conditions can go undetected until there is an emergency: respiratory illnesses constitute a large percentage of emergency room visits. And a “little cold” or flu can quickly escalate into pneumonia, which can be fatal in the elderly.
At The Kensington Sierra Madre, we provide a full spectrum of clinical support— beyond what many traditional assisted living communities offer. Our onsite physician’s office keeps regular office hours. We provide a full-time Registered Nurse who coordinates all aspects of our residents’ medical care. And licensed nurses are onsite 24 hours a day to administer medication.
With this level of monitoring, your loved one will be much safer on a day-to-day basis, which brings you greater peace of mind.
Nutrition for Changing Needs
Metabolism, digestion, thirst, taste, and lifestyle all change as we grow older. In addition, older people may have dental health issues that make eating certain foods difficult. Some people may turn to fast foods as a solution, which is highly detrimental to health.
In our assisted living environment, however, food is central to our residents’ lives. Director of Dining Services, Dusko Novakovic, understands senior nutritional needs and prepares healthful, delicious meals daily.
Come visit us soon, and discover why The Kensington Sierra Madre may be the ideal place for your loved one to safely enjoy their senior years.