Seniors Are Living Longer

In the 1920s, the lifespan of the average American was just 58 years. But times were different. World War I had just ended in 1918. And by 1920, the world survived the Spanish flu pandemic, which killed 50 million people. The medical technology of that era seems barbaric by today’s standards. And the leading causes of death were heart disease, pneumonia, and tuberculosis.

By the 1950s, the average American lived to age 69.

And today’s average US lifespan is now 79 years. But that is just the average. Today there are more than 22 million Americans aged 75 or older. And there are almost 3 million aged 90 or older.

Yes, we are living longer.

However, our quality of living is not determined by our chronological age but by our physical, cognitive, and mental health. These factors determine our independence and the choices of where we live as we age.

More than 90% of Americans want to age in place in the comfort of their home. That may be the best option for some. But for others, there might be safety issues like fall risks or worsening conditions like dementia or Alzheimer’s.

If you are the caregiver for a senior loved one, how do you know when it is time to consider assisted living communities as the best option?
Below are the most common 7 signs that assisted living may be your best choice.

7 Early Signs Showing the Need for Assisted Living

1. Declining Health

Even with state-of-the-art modern medicine, some health conditions will keep getting worse. Your senior loved one may have a chronic deteriorating health condition or the early stages of certain cognitive conditions. These are signs that they will eventually need more care than you can provide at home.
According to the National Council on Aging, almost 80% of seniors over 65 suffer from two or more chronic and deteriorating conditions.

And the leading causes of death among older adults in the U.S. are chronic diseases, like heart disease, cancer, chronic lower respiratory diseases, stroke, Alzheimer’s disease, and diabetes.

These diseases limit a person’s ability to perform daily activities and cause them to lose their independence. Often, the care needed for these seniors is better provided in an assisted living setting. Even if you are willing to try and give this type of care at home, it may be time to let the trained staff at an assisted living community provide the best care for your loved one.

2. Safety Concerns

Your loved ones may have increasing difficulty moving around their home due to declining physical health. Climbing stairs may become impossible. Taking a shower unaided might be too dangerous. According to The National Council On Aging, every 11 seconds, a senior receives emergency room treatment for a fall. The CDC states that 1 in 5 falls lead to serious injuries and bone fractures, with over 300,000 seniors being hospitalized for hip fractures every year. And, falls are the leading cause of traumatic brain injuries in the US.

Decreasing cognitive ability adds to the safety concern for your senior loved one. Alzheimer’s and other types of dementia can cause confusion, loss of memory, and increasing difficulty functioning without supervision. It is one thing to forget where the TV remote is. It is another to forget to turn off the stove or running bathwater. Increasing safety concerns are a significant sign to consider the assisted living alternative.

3. Isolation

Many seniors live alone and become isolated as they age. Their family may live far away. Physical factors like hearing impairment, the inability to drive, no close-by neighbors, and no social network can result in the senior becoming detached and isolated.

Social isolation is a significant risk factor for early mortality and a worsening factor for chronic diseases, cognitive decline, and dementia.
Even though you may want to be there for your aging senior, many times, jobs, geography, and other obligations make it impossible for you and your family members to visit often and consistently.

According to AARP, signs of isolation include withdrawal, poor nutrition, worsening living conditions, and poor hygiene. Assisted living communities offer robust programs to keep your senior loved one engaged in a community setting and enjoying the best possible lifestyle.

4. Increasing Difficulty Managing Daily Tasks

Is it becoming harder and harder for your senior loved one to perform routine daily tasks?
Do they cook healthy meals with fresh foods, or is their diet becoming more and more microwave TV dinners? Do they keep up with daily showering or bathing, brushing their teeth, and shampooing their hair? Are they in a good mood, neat, and well-groomed? Or do they struggle and look more and more disheveled?
Healthcare professionals call these basic day-to-day self-care tasks “Activities of Daily Living.” Your senior loved one’s ability or inability to perform these tasks is a measurement used by healthcare professionals for assessing the ability to remain independent.

ADLs

Basic ADLs are self-care activities routinely performed, such as:

  • Having the basic mobility to get from one place to the other throughout the day, which includes walking and getting in and out of a chair or bed
  • Maintaining personal hygiene, grooming, and oral care
  • Showering and bathing
  • Toileting
  • Dressing, which includes selecting and putting on appropriate clothing
  • Self-feeding

Performing these ADLs usually takes longer and is a little more difficult as people age. Some health issues like a fall or stroke can make these daily tasks even harder to perform.

Research shows that about two-thirds of Americans over 65 need assistance with day-to-day activities such as eating, bathing, cooking, and moving around. And almost half of seniors aged 85 or older have Alzheimer’s or another type of dementia. These cognitive conditions result in the senior eventually becoming wholly dependent on others for medical care and daily needs.

While these tasks become more difficult for your senior loved one at home, trained assisted living staff can help with any of these needs.

5. Self-Neglect

When seniors cannot keep up with their ADLs, they often experience self-neglect. If you ever notice your loved one with greasy hair, dirty or long fingernails, or possibly needing deodorant, these are all signs for concern.

Unfortunately, poor hygiene often results in seniors being unable to perform ADLs, but unwilling to ask for help.

Other signs of self-neglect often include:

  • Weight loss
  • Inadequate food in the house
  • Unopened mail
  • Clutter in the house
  • Unwashed dishes
  • Failure to take needed medications
  • Pets seeming neglected

Self-neglect is a serious health concern and is a bright red flag that your senior needs help with their ADLs. Assisted living communities are designed to ensure that self-neglect does not happen. They provide seniors with all the assistance needed to live a dignified and fulfilling life.

6. Trouble With Bills and Finances

After decades of taking care of their own bills and finances, you might notice your senior loved one now has trouble with these activities. Forgetfulness and memory issues are often the early signals of cognitive difficulties.

Besides health issues, these cognitive issues make seniors the target of financial fraud and abuse.

Financial scams targeting the elderly are widespread and growing. According to the FBI’s Elder Fraud Report, in 2021, there were 92,371 elder fraud victims, resulting in $1.7 billion in losses. This was a 74% increase from 2020.

If you believe your senior loved one was scammed, contact the Department of Justice’s Elder Justice Initiative.

7. House Upkeep Issues

When a senior has difficulty with their day-to-day activities, it is almost impossible for them to stay current with house upkeep and maintenance.

Signs of upkeep issues include:

  • Unkempt lawns
  • Unrepaired torn screens
  • Clutter throughout the house
  • Unswept floors and unvacuumed rugs
  • Mold and peeling paint
  • Burned-out light bulbs

Assisted living communities relieve seniors from the burden of home maintenance. Seniors can concentrate on living their best life in a safe, gorgeous, well-designed unit and leave all the maintenance hassles and worries to someone else.


Your Next Best Step

Choosing whether to age at home or move to an assisted living community is a big decision and can seem overwhelming.
While most seniors want to age in place at home, sometimes an assisted living community is a better choice for health, well-being, and living the best life possible.
Florida Senior Consulting helps seniors decide their next best steps.

We have certified staff, licensed nurse advocates, and decades of experience in the field. We are a Florida-based company with expert knowledge of the Florida senior market. While senior options can seem confusing, this is all we do.

Senior living should be on your terms, and the choice should always be yours.

Let us help. Call us, and we will answer all your questions and help you decide what is best for you or your senior loved one.

For peace of mind, call us at (941) 661-6196 or visit us at floridaseniorconsulting.com.