When Is It Time for Assisted Living?


Deciding on the best time for assisted living is just as hard as deciphering the Difference Between Assisted Living and a Nursing Home.

These two decisions are crucial to the aging process. Choosing wisely will ensure that you or your loved one will continue to have a vibrant life after the transition to a care facility.

It is hard to know when the right time for assisted living is. Many people wait longer than necessary. Often it is a catastrophic event, like a fall or broken bones, that drives the decision.  In order to ensure the senior gets the right amount and type of care at the right time, we’ve compiled a list of things to consider. This list includes both physical and mental capabilities. Hopefully, this will help you make your decisions easier.

The staff at all four Vibrant Life locations throughout Michigan are well versed and trained to help you. Please do not hesitate to call one of our locations to speak to someone directly.

Call Today: (734)847-3217   Temperance 

Call Today: (734)484-4740 Superior (Ann Arbor/Canton)

Call Today: (989)288-6561    Durand/Owosso

Call Today: (269)372-6100   New Friends Kalamazoo

Physical Signs That it is Time for Assisted Living

The following questions relate to someone’s ability to physically live alone and take care of themselves.

#1. Has your loved one fallen recently? 

This is often the first time family members consider assisted living. If your loved one is serious hurt and requires surgery and/or physical therapy they first will usually go to a “Rehab” for rehabilitation.  This rehab can be from 20-100 days, but is usually around 20 days.  Your Medicare benefit pays 100% of the rehab up to day 20, and approximately 85% from day 21 to day 100.  You might not realize it but most most of these “rehabs” are usually nursing homes.

Did you know you can now do “Rehab” in assisted Living?  In our Vibrant Life Senior Living, Superior Township location (Ann Arbor/Canton) you can have your Medicare Rehab done right in our own community.  You can skip the Nursing Home!  Call us for more information.

I there has been a fall you need to ask yourself:

“How likely are they to fall again?”

“How long could it be until help arrives?”

“Do we just need to get a medical alert system?”

#2. Can my loved one get around in their own home?

Is your loved one still able to get up and down the stairs? Can they navigate the threshold on doors to get in and out of the house? You may need to renovate or adapt the home or transition to assisted living.

#3. Is my loved one eating and bathing properly? 

Often the first signs that someone needs more assistance is a decrease in a person’s ability to perform their own activities of daily living (ADL).  The six main ADL’s are:

  • dressing
  • bathing
  • toileting/personal care
  • ambulating (walking)
  • eating
  • taking medications

In other words, if they start to need help cooking for themselves, cleaning the house, and basic hygiene (bathing, brushing teeth, combing hair, changing clothes, etc.) If one or more of these areas of their life is being neglected it is a sign that they need more help with daily tasks of living.

Note: if your loved one also has any pets, you will need to also assess how the pets are being taken care of as well.

#4. Does my loved one have chronic health problems that are going to continue to get worse? 

Once your loved one develops a health issue that will continue to worsen, as is common as we age, it may be easier for everyone if the move to assisted living happens sooner than later. The term “Aging in Place” is used in senior care to mean that as the person’s health care needs increase, the facility they reside in is equipped to provide more care. This is common in memory care facilities that generally have different levels of care depending on the progression of dementia.

Note: Most Vibrant Life Communities have three different levels of memory care or support – early, moderate and later stages.  This is unique in the industry.  We have found that people can stay more vibrant, and the staff and families are happier when a person requiring help with memory care is living in a community with people like them, rather than being at a different stage of memory support.

#5. Does it take longer for my loved one to recover from illness or injury? 

Unfortunately, this is a natural part of getting older.  This is a sign of a weakened immune system and often indicates that they’ll need more care soon.

#6.  Does my loved one remember to take all their medication as prescribed? 

If your family member lives alone and/or is having trouble remembering to take their medication, this is a sign that more help is needed. If they are skipping medication due to a financial concern, a medicare supplemental insurance program could help.

#7. How is my loved one’s driving?

As we get older it is very important that we are realistic about our ability to drive. This is such a hard topic to broach because driving means freedom to most people. No one wants to give up their freedom. However, if your loved one has been in an accident, even if it was a minor fender bender, or if they are involved in more than one traffic incident, it is time to assess their driving.

When someone is impaired enough to no longer be able to drive it is a good time to also determine if they should be living alone. This is a good indicator that changes in other areas of their life are most likely needed.

Cognitive Signs That it is Time for Assisted Living

The following list of questions will help you determine if your loved one is struggling with dementia or other cognitive issues that may require more care than their current situation.

#1. Has my loved one’s personality changed? 

When people start to experience dementia or memory loss they can become angry. Often, this is their way of hiding how scared they are of the changes that are happening to them. Aggressive behavior can also be associated with confusion and dementia.

If your loved one has topped participating in social activities they used to enjoy, ask them why. If they have stopped leaving the house regularly they may be scared to drive or worried they will forget something.  Depression can also set in when we start to worry about our memory. These are all signs that someone may need more support and care.

#2. Has your loved one gotten lost lately? 

This could be while driving or out walking, or forgetting where they are. It is scary and upsetting when this starts to happen and can be an indication that memory loss and dementia have started or progressed.  If this happens, you should think seriously about in home care, or assisted living or memory care.  Your loved one’s life could be in danger.

#3. Does my loved one seem happy? 

This may be an easier question to start with. If you notice your loved one generally seems unhappy, or not as happy as they once were, it is time for an honest conversation. Depression can be the cause but also a sign of more going on, as listed above. Staying in tune with elderly people’s general state of happiness can often help you recognize early on when something isn’t right or their situation requires a change.

The Wrap Up: When is it time for assisted living?

Realizing your loved one needs full-time care can be hard. These signs will help you be aware sooner that more care is needed. This allows you to make informed decisions in a timely manner before a major incident happens.

Vibrant Life Senior Living founder and owner, Dean Solden, expresses it this way: “In my thirty years in the senior living business, I talk to people about their loved ones every day.  The most important piece of advice I can give someone is this: if you are thinking of having Mom or Dad relocate to an assisted living or memory care community, do it 60-90 days earlier than you think they need it!  Most people make the mistake of waiting too long.  I cannot tell you how many times people contact us and are ‘thinking’ of having Mom or Dad move into Vibrant Life, but they keep waiting. And sure enough, Mom or Dad falls or has an accident, and then they need surgery on their knee or hip, and THEN they come to us.  Now they’ve suffered a double trauma.  They have to deal with being more physically compromised than before, AND they have to deal with the stress of moving to a new home.  Please, move to the new home FIRST, before an incident happens.  One stressful incident at a time is enough.  Two is too much. It will save you many months and years of suffering, and make it much easier on your Mom or Dad.” 

Talk to your loved one about their housing options. You may need to involve their doctor and a financial advisor in the conversations so that you both understand all the senior living choices available and what level of care makes sense.

Learn More

You can learn more about our assisted living or memory care services on our website, or contact us for more information.

Come in for a visit to learn more. Call (734)847-3217 or send us a note:

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8 Responses to “When Is It Time for Assisted Living?”

  1. Charlotte Fleet

    I like that you explain the importance of your loved one having help if they have gotten lost since it could be a sign of dementia and their lives could be in danger. My husband mentioned that his grandma was lost the other day when she was on her way to a family event. I think they should look into finding a quality retirement home community for her to stay.

  2. Charlotte Fleet

    I had no idea that you should look into having your loved one put into an assisted living community home if they fall frequently since they might need more help than usual. My grandma has been hurt a few times and we are starting to worry. I think we should look into finding a quality assisted living community for her.

  3. Franklin White

    Thanks for mentioning that it’s time for assisted living if your loved one can’t get around their own home. My grandpa is struggling to go from his bed to his couch where he spends the most of his day. I think I’ll talk to him about getting helped by an assisted living service so he can do more than sleep and eat on his couch and bed.

  4. Nelson Fogerty

    It’s great that you point out that assisted living is very useful for elderly people who need extra help in their daily lives. My mother is getting too old to care for herself properly, so I’m thinking about moving her to an assisted living facility. I’m going to look for a good assisted living facility in my area to use.

  5. Alicia Byrne

    I agree with you that getting lost can indicate dementia in the elderly. My mother has recently forgotten her way back home and was found wandering on the streets. Luckily, my neighbor saw her and brought her back home safely. I will have a talk with my family members about sending my mother to a memory care center if that is the best option for her.

  6. Ellie Davis

    I never knew that having a senior at home with problems to move around can represent a risk for them and you. My husband and I have been taking care of my grandpa, but I have a lot of problems to help him around since I’m very short compared to him. I will let my husband know about the option of an assisted living facility so they can help my grandpa.

  7. I really appreciate your effort to make it clear that if your loved one is unable to do basic daily routines like eating and bathing then they need help. I would like for my dad to live in a senior care center. he has been having trouble with eating every day so it would be nice for him to get hat assisted living while also being with people his age.

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