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When Does My Aging Parent Need Assisted Living?

Daughter holding her mom while laughing

It can be challenging for adult children to recognize the signs that their aging parents could benefit from assisted living. It helps to understand the unique support this level of senior living provides. Friendly caregivers will help residents with activities of daily living so they can focus on what they love.

Activities of Daily Living Definition: Essential skills that allow a person to live and care for themselves independently.

Seniors may not require assistance with every ADL to benefit from assisted living. But having help with fundamental everyday tasks can help keep them remain more independent longer. 

Activities of Daily Living: What to Look For


The medical term is “ambulating” and, practically, it means more than walking. Ambulating is a person’s ability to move safely within their environment.

If your loved one’s residence is showing signs of neglect or if they have more bumps and bruises than usual, they could benefit from assistance.


This is sometimes termed “feeding,” and the term refers to the dexterity to raise food from a plate to a person’s own mouth, as well as the ability to procure and prepare nutritious food for themselves.

You might notice your loved one has had a significant fluctuation in their weight. They may reach for less healthy food that doesn’t need preparation, or they may not eat much at all.


Your loved one deserves clean, fresh clothing every day and night. But dressing and undressing requires a certain range of motion and level of agility. 

Your loved one may wear the same clothes several days in a row, or you may notice their clothes aren’t washed. These could be signs that they don’t feel able to dress or undress themselves.


A senior living independently should be able to get to the bathroom, use the toilet and clean themselves successfully.

You may notice odors or stains on your loved one’s clothes or furniture, or they may become more dependent on incontinence products.


This term refers to the strength and mobility an older adult needs to move themselves from one position to another — for example, up and down from a bed or in and out of a chair.

This ADL can be hard to recognize if you’re not with your loved one all the time, but you may notice they’re less willing to leave the house. They may forgo social outings or pull out of regular activities to avoid feeling stuck in public.


Hygiene is a key component to anyone’s self-image and health. A senior should be able to clean themselves in the shower or bath. Additional hygienic and grooming activities include brushing one’s hair and teeth.

If your loved one’s appearance is becoming more unkempt, they may not feel safe in the bath or shower or may not have the dexterity to use a comb or toothbrush.

Medication management

Correct dosages and consistent timing affect the efficacy of many medications. If a senior repeats or misses doses, they may not experience the full benefits of the prescription.

If a senior is unable to get to the pharmacy to pick up their prescriptions or if they’re experiencing memory issues and forget whether they’ve taken their medication, they may need a trained caregiver to assist them.

Senior woman and daughter sitting on the couch

How to Speak to a Parent about Assisted Living

You may think your parent would benefit from the support in assisted living, but broaching the subject can sometimes be difficult. Your loved one may not feel ready to make a change to their lifestyle. Start the conversation from a place of empathy. Explain your concerns and listen closely to their response. It may take several conversations to come to an understanding. Don’t forget to highlight the social advantages of community living, delicious dining and a maintenance-free lifestyle.

At Grace Ridge, our assisted living services are focused on the individual. We offer the senior care residents need to remain as independent as possible. Interesting activities and delightful residents make each day more vibrant. If you’d like to find out more about assisted living in North Carolina or any of our levels of senior care, explore our website or contact us. Our team would be happy to provide more details.