Telltale Signs It Could Be Time For Assisted Living

Cognitive and physical challenges are a natural part of the aging process, but it’s still difficult to watch an elderly parent’s health decline. Looking for and recognizing the telltale signs can help you determine if and when they need the kind of support provided by an assisted living community.

What is Assisted Living?

First, let’s talk about what assisted living is and what it is not. Assisted living typically includes housing, personal care and support with activities of daily living while helping older adults maintain their independence and enhancing quality of life.

Residents of assisted living communities receive help with bathing, dressing, eating and medication as well as onsite medical care and wellness services. Residents benefit from the comfort and convenience of a homelike setting without the worry of home upkeep, cooking, cleaning and yard maintenance. Social opportunities are also essential to daily life in an assisted living community with a range of scheduled programs, life enrichment activities, special events and outings.

Assisted living is not for those with medical conditions that require round-the-clock care or specialized care for Alzheimer’s disease and dementia, although skilled nursing and specialized memory care may be offered on the same campus.

How Do You Know When It’s Time For Assisted Living?

Chronic illness, cognitive decline, and other factors of aging may be an indication that your loved one needs more assistance than they can provide themselves, but the reality is, there’s not always one turning point that signals the right time to move to assisted living. In some cases, the signs are so subtle that you may not even notice it at first.

To determine if it’s time for assisted living, look closely at your loved one’s living conditions, appearance, abilities and health, then ask yourself these questions:


  • Is your loved one leaving doors unlocked or opening them to strangers?
  • Does your loved one ever get lost or wander?
  • Does your loved one get disoriented in familiar places?
  • Have you noticed signs of kitchen fires or appliances left on?
  • Is the heat on in the summer or air conditioner on in the winter?
  • Have they fallen, or are they at high risk due to eye conditions, balance, medications or safety concerns in the home?
  • How close is help in the case of an emergency health or weather event?


  • Has your loved one received the Covid-19 vaccine?
  • Has your loved one experienced sudden weight loss or gain?
  • Do they have difficulty getting up from a chair or navigating around furniture?
  • Do they have difficulty climbing stairs?
  • Have they had a recent health scare or trouble recovering from common illnesses such as colds?
  • Are chronic health conditions getting worse or harder to manage?


  • Is your loved one suddenly unkempt?
  • Are they bathing regularly?
  • Are clothes stained and dirty?
  • Is make-up incorrectly applied?


  • What social opportunities does your loved one have?
  • Are they avoiding activities which they previously loved?
  • Do they have active friendships?


  • Is it hard for your loved one to keep up with yard work, house cleaning, laundry, shopping and other chores?
  • Can they shower, dress, use the bathroom and manage their medications unassisted?
  • Are there any unpaid bills or have they fallen victim to scams?
  • Is the mail piling up or unopened?
  • Are plants dying or do they appear neglected?
  • Are their pets well taken care of?
  • Is their home in disrepair or messy?


  • Have you noticed dents on the car?
  • Have there been accidents or close calls while your loved one was driving?
  • Have you noticed dangerous driving, including driving too fast or too slow, tailgating, drifting across lanes or confusing the gas and the brake?
  • How is their reaction time and vision?
  • Are they easily distracted or have they gotten lost on the way home?
  • How well is the car maintained?
  • Has your loved one run out of gas?


  • Are there stale, expired foods in the pantry or excessive amounts of particular items?
  • Are there spoiled foods in the refrigerator?
  • Does your loved one live on TV dinners or take-out, opting to avoid cooking fresh or whole foods?

If you recognize any of these signs in your loved one, ask a doctor which level of care they believe your loved one needs to help you make a more informed decision.

Beyond these telltale signs, the emotional state of your loved one is equally important as their appearance since isolation and depression factor heavily in their overall health and well-being, putting them at potentially greater risk of health decline.

Get A Second Opinion

If you’re still unsure if it’s time for assisted living, it’s okay to get a second or third opinion. This may be one of the biggest decisions your family makes, so don’t hesitate to talk to a doctor, social worker or friends, and consider scheduling a free in-home assessment from Sonata Senior Living.

At Sonata Senior Living, you’ll find professional caregivers dedicated to improving the health, happiness and well-being of older adults. Assisted living at Sonata provides 24-hour access to personal care and support as well as daily opportunities to socialize, exercise and engage in activities.

For help starting the conversation about assisted living or to learn more about assisted living and memory care at Sonata Senior Living, schedule a visit to a community near you.



Visit Sonata Senior Living and find out how personalized programming in assisted living promotes independence and well-being.