Recently I’ve been involved with 3 different families that have had to evaluate this question, is it time for mom to move into a retirement home? All 3 families had very different issues with mom’s physical/mental health and all 3 of them had very different ideas of when they thought it was time to move mom into a retirement home. Everyone of these families truly loves their mom and wants what’s best for her. Your situation, your relationship and how you relate to your mom will be unique to you and your family.

Some signs that it might be time for mom to move a retirement home

Give your mom a big hug (moms all enjoy being hugged) and make note of any of the following:

When you hug your mom does she feel thinner/heavier? Check her belt (if she wears one), has she added notches to the belt? Don’t assume that mom is doing OK, spend some time with her and watch her prepare a meal or two, go shopping with her. Is she remembering how to shop or cook? Weight loss/gain can be attributed to many different causes, so be sure to spend some time with mom in order to find out why she might be losing/gaining weight.

When you hug mom, does she seem more frail? Watch her get up from a chair and walk. Is she having more trouble getting up out of the chair and is she having difficulty walking across the room?

When you hug mom, does she have an unusual odor? If she does, there might be a change with her personal hygiene. Causes could be associated with depression, memory loss or even a physical ailment.

When you hug mom do you notice a change in her appearance? Is her hair out of place/messy? A senior who normally is very neat in appearance that starts to wear wrinkled or dirty clothes might be giving you an indication that mom is having trouble. Now it’s your job to find out why.

Social Activity

Does mom still get together for lunches or outings with friends or visits with neighbors? Is she still active with her hobbies, or has her social involvement declined? Has she let her membership expire at any clubs, or the library? Seniors cut back on activities as they age but if mom is showing no interest in any activities you’ll need to find out if she is feeling depressed.

How often does mom leave the house? If she doesn’t leave for days at a time it could be because she can’t drive or is afraid to take public transportation. Retirement communities have dedicated transportation for their residents and offer regular outings that may keep them more mobile and active, not less.

Check mom’s mail

Go through mom’s mail. If you find lots of mail scattered around, it should raise concerns about how bills and other matters are being managed. If you find piles of mail laying around, pick them up and put them in a safe place. These piles are also a trip hazard. While sorting through her mail, does she have any unopened personal mail, delinquent payment notices or unpaid bills? If so it could be the initial onset of memory loss. Are there thank-you letters from charities? Seniors are often targets to scammers. Some charities repeatedly ask givers again and again, your mom may not remember having donating to the charity the first time.