Keep the big red flags in mind. Certain situations make it more obvious that it’s wise to start thinking about alternate living arrangements.

Look for:

  • Recent accidents or close calls. Did your loved one take a fall, have a medical scare, or get in a fender bender (or worse)? Who responded and how long did it take? Accidents do happen, but as people get older, the odds rise of them happening again.
  • A slow recovery. How did the person you’re caring for weather the most recent illness (for example, a flu or bad cold)? Was he or she able and willing to seek medical care when needed, or did last winter’s cold develop into untreated bronchitis.
  • A chronic health condition that’s worsening. Progressive problems such as COPD, dementia, and congestive heart failure can decline gradually or precipitously, but either way, their presence means your loved one will increasingly need help.
  • Increasing difficulty managing the activities of daily living (ADLs) and instrumental activities of daily living (IADLs). ADLs and IADLs are the skills needed to live independently—dressing, shopping, cooking, doing laundry, managing medications, and so on.