It can be a difficult and sometimes contentious decision to make the move into aged care, either for yourself or for a partner, elderly parent or relative. People don’t always agree when it’s time to accept more help and support, and no one likes having decisions taken out of their hands and made for them.
However, there’s no denying that aged care becomes necessary for many people at some point in their lives. And making that decision is much easier if you can take the emotion out of it. Instead of going on vague “feelings” that it might be time to think about aged care, it’s far better if you can focus on some concrete signs – like these.
Increasing muscle weakness
While it’s natural for muscles to become weaker as you age, it becomes a problem when muscle wastage starts to cause balance issues, frequent stumbles or serious falls. This can lead to broken bones, other injuries and even a shortened lifespan.
If you or your loved one are finding it increasingly difficult to navigate stairs, driveways, stepping into the bath or shower, moving around your house or getting up and down from a chair, it’s time to consider a move into aged care. Physical impairment prevents you from doing what you need to do, and can have quite serious consequences if not managed by a health professional.
Bladder or bowel incontinence
More frequent accidents and an inability to go to the toilet properly are a big red flag that living alone is no longer an option.
If you’re struggling to get through daily life and are feeling continually tired, worn out and exhausted, a move into aged care will make a big difference to your life and will make it far easier.
If you suspect your loved one is not eating properly, either through a physical condition or being unable to shop, prepare and serve the food, it’s definitely time to consider aged care.
Increase in existing symptoms
Any increase in symptoms of existing conditions, meaning they are getting harder to manage and live with, is a sign that a move into aged care is on the cards.
Memory loss and forgetfulness
Some memory loss is normal as we get older, but this becomes a big problem if it starts to affect our attention span, wellbeing and health.
Having difficulty focussing, trouble following conversations, an inability to find familiar places and mixing up words may indicate that you have a condition like dementia or Alzheimer’s Disease. If so, you’ll require long-term care in an aged care facility.
If you or your loved one are showing signs of mental distress, it’s time to start a discussion about more permanent care options.
Depression and/or anxiety
Your risk for depression and anxiety can increase as you age, making you more likely to withdraw from society and experience difficulties navigating everyday life.
It’s all too easy for your world to shrink and close in as you get older – but if that starts to happen it might be time to consider aged care. That’s because loneliness and isolation have a huge negative effect on both the mind and body, and you’re better off moving into an environment that comes with a built-in community to help you stay involved.
Significant changes in personality can indicate that something is wrong. For instance, social withdrawal or a lack of interest in previously enjoyed activities can be a sign that you need more help. It’s best to see your doctor if you notice any change in personality/habits or cognitive abilities.
More frequent visits to doctors/hospital
If you or your loved one are needing more frequent visits to the doctor to stay on top of your health, or have had multiple hospital visits due to chronic health issues or accidents/injuries, it might be time for a higher level of care.
Requiring more or more frequent medication
Similarly, if it’s taking more varieties of medication to get on top of your condition, or more frequent doses of your current medication, aged care is definitely the way to go. Aged care facilities provide onsite nurses to help manage your medication and ensure you take it correctly and regularly. And nursing staff can help you navigate the worsening issues caused by your condition.
A messy/unclean house
If it’s becoming increasingly difficult to keep your house clean, hygienic and safe for occupation (think mould, mildew, pests etc.), it’s time to consider aged care, where all such household tasks will be done for you. If you notice a decline in your ability to perform day-to-day tasks, or feel your house is becoming dangerous, it’s definitely time to seriously consider a move into aged care.
Feeling unsafe in your own home is a big sign that aged care is on the horizon – particularly if you live alone. Perhaps you don’t feel secure being on your own at night, or perhaps you don’t feel safe to move around the house without hurting yourself. You may feel unsafe when you have a medical episode if no one is there to look after you. Whatever is making you feel unsafe, aged care has the answer, and will allow you to feel much more safe, comfortable and secure.
If you notice any of these signs in yourself or a loved one, take some steps to get the aged care process underway. Even if there’s only a few signs, it’s best to get the process started earlier than you need to. And if you notice many of these signs, don’t delay, and visit the My Aged Care website to get started on your aged care journey straight away.
Click here to read more about how to make the transition into aged care easier.