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Monday, November 25, 2013 - Know when your senior parent or loved one may need assisted living

Know when your senior parent or loved one may need assisted living

By Abhijit Chatterjee, M.D.

Just because senior parents or loved ones are showing signs of aging does not mean their quality of life has to diminish. This might be the time to consider a more supportive environment for them which can help to continue, or even boost their enjoyment of daily living. Today, there are various senior living models to consider, some offering around-the-clock services to help seniors with daily tasks such as meal service, personal hygiene assistance and on-site health and medical care needs. They also offer a busy and exciting social calendar to keep the mind and body active.

As a physician specializing in geriatrics, I often work with families who are reluctant to face the time when their loved ones may no longer be able to live independently or take care of themselves. For many, it is not easy to watch a beloved parent, who acted as a caregiver for so many years, struggle with daily tasks. In some cases, the advent of old age can be brought on by a medical issue. While a family member may sometimes move their loved one into their own home, I have seen that this can become very overwhelming for the family over time.

How do you know when an elderly parent or family member may need assisted living? Keep in mind, most seniors will be reluctant to admit that the time has come to move into a different kind of living environment; this can be a difficult realization for anyone to accept. I encourage families to meet and discuss the situation and various options together. In fact, your family doctor can also be part of this conversation and share his or her professional expertise and advice.

I’ve listed some of the key signs that a senior may be ready to move into an assisted living environment:

  • A medical condition prohibits the senior from accomplishing simple daily tasks safely and effectively.
  • Routine activities such as grocery shopping, home upkeep and personal finances are becoming challenging.
  • Pet care is neglected.
  • Healthy meals including protein, grains, fruits and vegetables are not being consumed regularly.
  • Social interaction with friends, neighbors and family has diminished.
  • Personal grooming, laundry and housekeeping are not maintained.
  • Exhibits physical signs of falling or bruising and cuts or other injuries.
  • Is unsure about medication schedules and dosages.
  • Cannot locate basic items such as wallet, phone, keys, etc.
  • Driving or traveling by public transportation has become problematic.

My recommendation is to research and visit a variety of assisted living communities with your parent or loved one and a family member or members. Above all, help the parent or loved one understand that you love them and want them to live in a safe, happy and healthy environment for many years to come.

CentraState Medical Center offers three distinctive senior living community options which provide comfortable, safe and affordable residential housing for the elderly. Its premier assisted living community, Monmouth Crossing, earned the Assisted Living Best Practice Award from the New Jersey Department of Health and Senior Services for four consecutive years. This active senior residential community is conveniently located across the street from CentraState Medical Center and within easy access to shopping, entertainment and recreational venues. Monmouth Crossing also offers residents with special needs, including memory-related conditions, comprehensive and attentive services in a safe, secure environment. To learn more about CentraState’s senior living communities, call (866) CENTRA7 or visit centrastate.com/senior-services.

Dr. Chatterjee is a double board-certified primary care physician specializing in geriatrics and internal medicine.  He is on staff at CentraState Medical Center and can be reached at Internal & Geriatric Practice of CentraState in Monroe Township by calling 609-655-2700.