Choosing the best senior living option for your mom or dad can feel overwhelming. Many of us expect the answer will be obvious – if our Mother is suffering from Dementia, for instance, the time will come when she needs to engage in Memory Care. Or, if our Dad has been diagnosed with Parkinson’s, we know he might need assisted living or maybe he prefers home care instead?

The truth is, though, that the right choice isn’t usually in front of our eyes. More often than not, it’s the little things – like that time Dad complained about the single stair in his shower, or the time Mom forgot to feed the dog – that indicate it’s time to look into care options.

In those less obvious cases, choosing between so many different types of care might feel daunting. What’s the difference between assisted living and a nursing home? Are there ways my parent can continue to live independently? Do I have to hire a full-time caregiver? Does my mom really need that extra help?

In today’s episode, we’ll break down the options for you – so that this new and treacherous landscape can transform into something simple and comprehensible. When you understand your options, you can make a much more informed decision – without worrying that you might be missing something. We’ll discuss assisted living, nursing homes, memory care, home care, and even whether moving Mom or Dad in with you is an ideal option. We’ll also talk about independent living – and ways to stretch that period out for your parents, while still giving them the help they need.

Before we get into all that, though, let’s get into the signs that it might be time for more help in the first place.

You can begin by analyzing your parents’ overall physical health. If your parent is in great physical shape, then their options might be a lot more open. If you notice changes or problems in their health, though, you don’t want to wait to consult a doctor and start planning your next steps.

If you can visit with your parent, take the time on your next trip to absorb their behavior and look for any signs of health changes. Observe details like weight, sleep patterns, and possible injuries.

Has your mom lost a surprising amount of weight lately? If she looks thinner than usual, this could indicate that she’s been forgetting to eat. It could also be a sign of something more serious – like cancer, dementia, or depression. If you notice dramatic weight changes, you shouldn’t wait to get your parent to a doctor. When the reason for the weight loss is determined, not only can your mother begin treatment – but together, you can decide the best care option. If this is an early sign of dementia, for instance, you can think about Memory Care. If it’s a medical condition like cancer, your doctor will help you find the most suitable care.

If your parent’s weight is about the same – that’s a great sign. It’s possible that your mother can continue to live independently. Still, there are other – equally important – factors to consider. Once you’ve analyzed your parents’ weight, find out how they’ve been sleeping, and be sure to assess their overall wellbeing.

After assessing their overall well-being talk with them about what type of care would be best suited for their needs if they are able to be a part of the decision-making.