When It’s Time to Move Your Spouse to Assisted Living

There is a cliché that aging is not for sissies. One of the more challenging hurdles that many of us will face in our Golden Years is a situation in which our spouse may need to move into an assisted living community. You may be at a juncture at which you are wondering whether such a transition might be necessary in regard to your own spouse. 

As is the case with so many things during the course of a lifetime, you may think your spouse needs to make such a move, but your really are not certain. With that in mind, there are some key signs that are indicative of the possibility that your spouse may be a candidate for assisted living at this time:

  • Recent falls
  • Chronic or worsening health problems or conditions
  • Medication management issues
  • Problems undertaking activities of daily living
  • Hygiene issues
  • Mobility issues
  • Decreased driver competency
  • Others have expressed concern about status quo
  • Caregiver burnout

Understanding Assisted Living

There are a good number of myths and misconceptions floating around about assisted living. Before considering some potential signs that transitioning your spouse to assisted living may be a wise decision, we provide you with a summary of assisted living and what that type of long-term care assistance entails.

An assisted living facility is a senior living or long-term care option for those with minimal needs for assistance with daily living. The purpose of assisted living is to help adults live as independently as possible in a safe environment.

Aging in place is the option that most seniors prefer, but sometimes it is not the safest one to choose. Aging in place generally means residing at home. If a person is unable to take care of their daily activity needs, like dressing, bathing, cooking, shopping, paying bills, and taking medications, it’s time to rethink aging in place or your spouse continuing to life with you at home.

Recent Falls

Falls are the primary reason why people over the age of 65 end up in hospital emergency rooms. If your spouse is experiencing falls, you need to understand that his or her life really is at risk. Even with additional safety measures in your home, your spouse may continue to have issues with falling. This is a potent sign that the safety and wellbeing of your spouse might best be protected in an assisted living community.

Chronic or Worsening Health Problems or Conditions

If declining health is a major concern, it might be time to make the move into an assisted living facility or nursing home. Likewise, if they’re taking longer to recover from illness or injury, this can be a sign of a weakening immune system — they might need more care soon. Talk to your spouse’s doctor about assisted living if you are concerned. Having full-time assistance in an assisted living community might improve their health. 

Medication Management Issues

If your spouse is having problems with managing his or her medications, assisted living might be a good option (particularly if there are some other issues as well). These types of problems include missing taking medications or taking an unnecessary (and potentially dangerous) additional dose.

Problems Undertaking Activities of Daily Living

If your spouse is having issues completing some activities of daily living, this state of affairs is also indicative of the potential need for a transition into assisted living. Activities of daily living include such things as:

  • Bathing
  • Grooming
  • Dressing
  • Driving

Hygiene Issues

On a related note, John Hopkins School of Medicine identifies hygiene problems as indicative of the need to consider moving a spouse to an appropriate assisted living community. John Hopkins School of Medicine suggests you consider:

Have you noticed your loved one has stopped taking care of themselves like they used to? Have you noticed a new body odor? These can be signs someone is having a hard time bathing, which puts them at risk of infection and increases the likelihood of mental and emotional decline. Problems with self-care or other activities of daily living are a sign someone may benefit from an assisted living environment.

Mobility Issues

If your spouse is having new or worsening mobility issues, moving to assisted living is an option to consider. Mobility issues may be contributing to increased falls (discussed a moment ago). Bear in mind that both spouses are at risk when one is having mobility issues. The spouse without mobility issues might be injured when trying to assist the husband or wife with these challenges. 

Decreased Driving Competency

If you are finding yourself driving everywhere because you worry about your spouse’s drive competency, including when your spouse has an errand he or she typically had done on his or her own, the time may have arrived to consider assisted living. 

Others Have Expressed Concerns About Status Quo

The time to consider a move to assisted living for your spouse may have arrived if other people in your life as expressing concerns about the status quo. In other words, if family and friends are expression worries about your spouse continuing to life in the marital residence with you, considering what they have to say to you is important. Bear in mind that these people typically are expressing these thoughts to you not only out of concern for the wellbeing or your spouse but for your welfare as well. 

Caregiver Burnout

In the United States, the primary caregiver for an older individual who is experiencing some issues is a family member. More often than not that family member is the spouse. If you are the caretaking spouse, you may be experiencing caretaker burnout. Signs of caregiver burnout include:

  • Overwhelming fatigue
  • Withdrawal from friends
  • Withdrawal from family
  • Sleep issues
  • Headaches
  • Change in eating habits
  • Feelings of helplessness
  • Anxiety
  • Lack of concentration
  • Difficulty relaxing
  • Depression 

In the final analysis, the decision to transition a spouse to assisted living needs to be the result of discussion and agreement between the partners to a marriage. The decision for a spouse to move to assisted living does not need to be made as the result of one conversation. Rather, this decision should come as a result of discussions over time and consultations with others, including your spouse’s primary care physician (and perhaps you own doctor to ascertain if you do or don’t have the physical resources to continue to serve as your spouse’s primary caregiver).