Making the choice to help a loved one transition into an assisted living environment isn't always easy, and your decision should never be made in haste. Statistics show that assisted living communities are becoming increasingly popular options for family members who are struggling to help an aging loved one. According to the National Center for Assisted Living, more than 900,000 Americans depend on these facilities to enjoy a high quality of life despite advanced age, a chronic illness or disability.
Many family members ultimately decide that assistance is necessary after watching a loved one struggle with daily tasks such as cooking, bathing and running errands. Because things like balance and coordination are often compromised in elderly people, preparing a meal or taking a shower are two activities that could quickly turn dangerous. However, there are also some less obvious advantages to keeping your loved ones safer by transferring them into an assisted living facility. Keep reading to learn how some of the most positive factors aren't always immediately visible to the naked eye.
A Safeguard Against Loneliness
Many older people have feelings of isolation and loneliness, simply because they might no longer have an outlet for dealing with the occasional hardships of life. Also, in cases where a person's mobility has been affected, they may feel less able to interact with others in public.
Many assisted living facilities diligently plan events to help residents get to know others with similar interests. Sometimes, it's not even necessary for a person to engage in a planned activity, because they can feel comforted just by being around others who are in similar situations.
Often, even close family members are unaware that aged loved ones might be challenged by certain kinds of emotional difficulties. Feelings are sometimes easy to disguise, particularly if the person has been coping with them for a long time. With that in mind, don't be surprised if you notice that an older loved one seems to have a brighter outlook on life while in an assisted living home, even if they've always seemed very cheerful.
Human Interaction May Keep the Mind Sharper
Mental decline is often part of a person's aging process, and like loneliness, it's sometimes hard for bystanders to notice reduced mental acuity. However, a recent study from the Netherlands showed that some factors connected to dementia risk may be easily controlled.
At the end of last year, Fox News released details of the study, which found that people who felt lonely were at a higher risk of developing dementia during later years. Specifically, people who mentioned feeling lonely had just over a 13% chance of developing dementia within the next three years, as compared with slightly more than 5% who developed dementia over the following three years, but didn't feel lonely at the start of the study.
Scientists were careful to differentiate between actually being alone, and the feeling of loneliness. They clarified that although being alone wasn't a measured factor, the absence of social attachments certainly seemed to play a role in increasing dementia risk.
As these two factors demonstrate, there are many good reasons to think about moving a loved one into an assisted living environment, and some of them aren't immediately obvious. Weigh all the pros and cons of the situation you're facing to make a thorough and educated decision about your loved one's future.
Author Sam Negrete recently helped move his mother into an assisted living home. Do you have a loved one that is in need of a safe environment, visit Assisted Living Today's website for a listing of facilities.