How to Decide if Your Parent is Able to Age in Place

Updated on April 28, 2018

Very few seniors want to move out of their home when they get older. But, for some, relocating to a nursing or assisted living home is the best option.

If you’re not sure if your parent should continue to age in place or move somewhere where they can get more support and supervision, keep reading. Listed below are five questions that can help you decide with option is right for them.

1. Can They Manage Their Own Medication?

If your parent remembers to take their medications each day — and doesn’t have any trouble remembering the prescribed dose — this is a good sign that they’re able to maintain their independence.

If you’re not sure how your parent is doing when it comes to managing their medication, check their house for expired prescriptions or pill bottles strewn about without any apparent structure.

These could be signs that they’re having a hard time keeping up with everything they’ve been prescribed.

2. Can They Prepare Balanced Meals for Themselves?

What does a typical day of eating look like for your parent? Are they able to prepare healthy, balanced meals for themselves, or are they relying primarily on frozen meals and packaged snacks? Have they had incidents in which they’ve forgotten to turn off the oven or stove and let food burn?

If your parent is having a hard time feeding themselves, they might need a professional’s help.

3. Do They Have Any Mobility Limitations?

Is your parent able to get around their house easily? Do they have issues taking the stairs? Have they had bad falls or stopped going into certain parts of the house because they feel unsafe?

Having mobility limitations don’t necessarily mean that a senior needs to live in an assisted living home. But, if they’re not able to manage those limitations and are at risk of falling and hurting themselves, relocating might be the best option.

4. Do They Keep Up With Their Personal Hygiene?

When you see your parent, are they groomed and wearing clean clothes? Or, are they unshaven, wearing soiled clothing, or have a general sense of unkemptness about them?

Poor personal hygiene could be a sign that your parent is depressed, or it could indicate an inability to handle basic tasks like bathing or doing the laundry. Either way, it’s something to be on the lookout for.

5. Can They Transport Themselves?

Is your parent able to drive to appointments or to run errands? Are they able to get to these places safely? If not, are there other options for them to get where they need to go?

Many nursing and assisted living homes offer shuttles to help seniors maintain their independence even if they’re no longer comfortable driving.

Helping a Parent Age in Place Safely

If you’ve decided that your parent is able to age in place but are still feeling anxious, here are some steps that will give you peace of mind and keep them safe:

  • Install grab bars and bed rails that can be used as an assist handle to help them manage mobility limitations

  • Invest in a medication tracker to help them manage prescriptions

  • Install a medical alert system for easy access to emergency services

  • Hire a home health care aid to help them with cleaning, hygiene, and food preparation

Talking About Moving

On the other hand, you may have decided that your parent actually does need to relocate. The talk about moving never an easy conversation to have, but, if your parent isn’t able to manage daily tasks on their own, you’ll need to address other options.

When it comes to talking about moving to a nursing or assisted living home, be sure keep these guidelines in mind:

  • Do your research on local homes beforehand so you can give them lots of options

  • Promise to keep them involved in the decision-making process

  • Acknowledge their concerns and be prepared to answer questions about selling the house or paying for a move

It’s also important to be prepared to have an ongoing discussion about moving. It may take a few tries before the idea really sticks, so be patient, yet persistent.


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