When is it Time for Assisted Living?

The decision on whether or not to move your loved one suffering from Alzheimer’s disease or other dementia is never an easy one. The emotional aspect alone is difficult enough to deal with not to mention other logistical and financial factors. Yet according the Alzheimer’s Association, there are more than 15 million Americans currently caring from someone suffering from this disease.

So how do you know when the needs of a loved one become too much to handle at home? The emotional and physical strain of a caregiver can often be overwhelming, especially when the caregiver is a spouse who is also a senior citizen or when the caregiver is a child who now has a family of their own to care for. All too often, the stress involved in giving the full-time care needed can cause feelings of anger, resentment and guilt. It’s a decision that shouldn’t have to be made alone.

Here are 5 key signs to look for and consider when weighing the decision of when to move your loved one into a full-time care facility:

1. Wandering: This may seem like a relatively harmless behavior at first, but the risk of falls and injuries are very serious and become more so in the later stages of dementia.

2. Aggression: Dementia patients frequently exhibit aggression in many forms: verbal, physical, and even sexual. This of course, can be very stressful for caregivers and family members that can also lead to feelings of resentment.

3. Sundowning: Sundown syndrome is a common occurrence in Alzheimer patients and is associated with increased confusion and agitation that becomes more pronounced later in the day. When this behavior adds too much strain and disruption to a caregiver’s life, it may be time to consider assisted living.

4. Needs exceeding the home: When you’re a caregiver to a patient with dementia you have to give yourself, your home, and your loved one an honest assessment. Does your home offer the necessary safety? Are the patient’s needs beyond your physical capabilities? These may not be easy answers, but you have to be sure to have the safety and health of your loved one and yourself at the forefront of your decisions.

5. Caregiver stress: We often put so much emphasis on the needs and well-being of the person suffering from the disease that, as a caregiver, we neglect our own health and stress levels. Oftentimes, it is the caregiver’s symptoms that are the telltale sign that it is time for assisted living.

Caring for a loved one dealing with Alzheimers is a very emotional and difficult task. And knowing when the patient might be better cared for in an assisted living facility can be even harder. But when that decision is made, don’t make it alone. It’s important to include friends, family members and physicians. Together, you can plan ahead, think through critical decisions, and visit various communities until you are confident that you have found the best place to care for your loved one.

For more information on caring for Alzheimer’s patients or to seek help in making difficult decisions regarding assisted living, please don’t hesitate to contact La Jolla Nursing and Rehabilitation Center at or call us at (858)453-5810.