5 Signs It’s Time for Assisted Living5 Signs It's Time for Assisted Living

We’d all love to live in our own homes and take care of our own selves and retain our independence right up until the day we die. Most people won’t get to do that. Approximately 70% of every senior 65 and up should expect to need at least a couple of years of long-term care, probably in an assisted living or nursing home.

When it’s time for a senior to make that move, it’s not always an easy pill to swallow. Nonetheless, for many seniors there comes a point where living on their own simply isn’t safe anymore. If your loved one can’t adequately take care of themselves anymore, you have to insist that they consider the safest option – moving into an assisted living or nursing home.

So how do you know if it’s time for assisted living? If you notice any of the below, it may be time to have that talk.

1. Difficulty with basic tasks

We all do dozens of little tasks each day that we take for granted need to be done – making meals, tidying rooms, doing laundry, paying bills. No one likes having to do them, but the effects of aging can reach a point where they’re much harder to do. Carrying things or moving from room to room can get more painful, for example, and suddenly the simple chore of laundry becomes much more difficult. Does your loved one have a harder time accomplishing everyday tasks?

2. Chores being neglected

One way some seniors deal with it when things start to get more difficult is simply not to. If your loved one is letting the dishes pile up, has a home covered in dust, and an ever growing pile of dirty clothes, it’s a sign they need some help.

3. Frequent injuries (even if minor)

2.5 million seniors are treated every year for injuries related to falls and in many cases the damage is serious. Minor injuries become a much bigger deal the older you get and if your loved one is suffering from them, then they likely need more day-to-day help than they’re willing to admit.

4. Significant weight loss

Eating well is one of the most basic of human needs. If your loved one isn’t maintaining a healthy weight, it could be because they’re having a hard time cooking their meals or they have a loss of appetite symptomatic of some larger problem. Either way, if they need assistance with as basic a task as eating often enough, they should have regular care.

5. A tendency toward isolation

Loneliness can be as bad for a senior’s health as an illness. If they’re not getting out and remaining active, living somewhere where they can tap into a community without leaving could be the trick. An assisted living home does mean less independence, but the other side of that coin is access to a whole new social community.

Moving to an assisted living facility or nursing home is a transition for sure, but the experience can be a positive one. Take time to find the home that best meets your loved ones needs. At the end of the day, the move is about their safety and your peace of mind.

Kristen Hicks is an Austin-based copywriter and lifelong student with an ongoing curiousity to learn and explore new things. She turns that interest to researching and exploring subjects helpful to seniors and their families for SeniorAdvisor.com.


  1. Susana December 26, 2015 Reply

    I moved my mom from her own apt. 500 miles away, into a non-assisted senior facility close to me, because she had mild dementia and started having problems on her own.
    The facility has maid service once a week (laundry, vacuuming, etc.), so the first 2 signs above weren’t a big deal. A few months later I had to start taking care of the finances because she would hide the bills and they became delinquent. (Definitely get your name on the bank accounts to make this easier.)
    I also had to set up the medications. As time went on, she was too confused to take the right day’s pills from the medi-planner and I had to take all medications out of her apt.
    She had plenty of socialization at all 3 meals with the other 90 residents.

    The final sign that my mother needed to be placed in a dementia/assisted living facility was not bathing. I don’t know if she “forgot” to bathe, if she was scared to use the shower for fear of falling or if she forgot how to turn it on or regulate it. She refused my help with showering.
    My mom had been fastidious in grooming all her life, bathing and wearing clean clothes daily. Now, she would keep the same outfit on for days. I also began to notice body odor. When I took her socks off, her toenails had grown over the top and into the back of the toes!
    I confronted her about it and, of course, she replied that she bathed every 2 days and laughed it off. The towels, soap and shower mat indicated differently.

    When I talked to her about moving to a place where they could help her, she angrily refused. Her 2 doctors declared her incompetent to live alone, so I had to trick her into going to the facility. She is now in a dementia unit where she gets bathed twice a week and is monitored 24/7.

    I know I made the right decision to move her to the Alzheimer’s facility. I am very relieved that her hygiene is being taken care of, and she can’t hurt herself. I wish she could have lived out her life, in the apt. she loved, without dementia.

    I’ve been a nurse for 36 years and have taken care of thousands of elderly patients. I hope and pray I pass away before I break down mentally and physically.

  2. Laurie February 26, 2016 Reply

    It can be hard to decide when to transition your loved one into an assisted living facility. You have provided some helpful starting points for those with elderly family members that may be questioning if it is time. Thank you so much for sharing.

  3. Beth April 24, 2018 Reply

    I’m so sorry, you’re not alone. I know exactly what you’re going through. My mom was in horrible ASL’s, I took her out. Brought her to me, thinking I could take care of her. She falls, won’t shower for three months now, I help her with everything. But I’m not enough, sad to say. I guess I have to look for a good ASL.

  4. Joy Butler November 14, 2018 Reply

    My sweet aunt lives on her own and has a hard time taking care of herself. I hadn’t thought it would be time for an assisted living situation, but I suppose it might be time. As you mentioned, it’s probably time when you see them start to struggle with basic tasks. She has been struggling to make her own meals and keep up with her hygiene. I am sure an assisted living home would make her quality of life so much easier and nicer. I think that’s the most important thing for her as she grows older. I just love her so much and want her to be happy.

  5. Bella December 27, 2019 Reply

    My father came home from a rehab facility in far worse condition than he went in. He’s home now, completely bed-ridden. He’s in diapers and the bed sores are increasing.
    My mother insists on keeping him home, however she’s frail so all of us kids are covering the schedule 24/7. The stress is too much! There is now fighting amongst us kids. (Us kids are not kids…ranging from 55-65).
    I believe it’s time for a nursing home, but nobody wants to be the “bad guy”.
    The house is not a safe place in my opinion.

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