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Help For Helpers

Do you help take care of a senior? Wondering when the next level of care is needed? Assisted living isn’t what it used to be.


Many seniors have an outdated notion of what “assisted living” is. They may feel strongly that they don’t want to leave their home and be shut away, out of sight, in an “old folks’ home.” If that’s the case, they may try to hide the fact that their health or mobility is declining.

Today, an assisted living community is much more likely to be a group of active and friendly seniors who offer each other a great deal of social support. While the vast majority of Arbour Square residents are in assisted living or memory care communities, many require very little help. Some continue to drive their own cars!

At Arbour Square at West Chester, we have some general guidelines we look at to determine whether a person would benefit from assisted living (as opposed to independent living).

We’d recommend assisted living if your loved one:

  • has been hospitalized in the past month.
  • uses a wheelchair. (Or if your loved one has been falling. Have you seen blood? Are there unexplained bruises?)
  • needs help bathing or dressing. (Are they wearing the same clothes you saw them in before? Are they doing laundry?)
  • currently lives in a multi-level home or one with other safety issues. (Do they need an emergency response button? Keep in mind that with assisted living, residents ought to have an emergency response system to call on when needed.)
  • needs meals prepared. (Note whether your loved one has issues with dehydration—which can lead to confusion—or chronic urinary tract infections. This can indicate that they aren’t eating well. Other indicators may be that food is expiring in the fridge. Does it make you nervous to think of your loved one using the stove?)
  • is isolated at home. (You’ll very likely hear them complain about loneliness.)
  • has pre-existing health issues, for example, depends on oxygen. (Are they taking their prescribed medications correctly? You may need to count their pills over a couple of visits.)

Don’t forget you need to think about other people, too. Caregivers can get burned out and need a break. You may want to try respite care, where your loved one stays in assisted living for a week or two. It may be just the thing to help them see that the “old folks’ home” isn’t what it used to be!