If you and your relatives have your hands full caring for an elderly loved one, you may be wondering when it\u2019s time for a change. Here are some tips for knowing when to consider an independent living, personal care, or assisted living environment.\nUPMC has facilities to fit the activity level and care requirements of every senior. Learn more about UPMC\u2019s Senior Communities.\nWhen Is It Time For Personal Care or Assisted Living?\nBefore considering moving your loved one to a care facility, it\u2019s important to know there are different types of resident facilities for the elderly, says Lori Greer, the regional administrator for UPMC\u2019s Senior Communities Personal Care and Assisted Living.\n\u201cThe difference is that assisted living facilities enable the residents there to age in place,\u201d says Greer. \u201cWith assisted living, services are provided in the home setting so that you can maintain those people\u2019s lifestyles for a longer period of time.\u201d\nIn Pennsylvania, some facilities are personal care and others are assisted living. The primary difference is having an assisted living license that meets the licensed requirements for space and facility support.\nThere are only a handful of licensed assisted living facilities, four of which belong to UPMC Senior Communities. Both options are available at UPMC Senior Communities and both provide excellent services.\nDetermining the best time to start the conversation with your loved one is tricky. Greer recommends looking at the situation objectively. \u201cAsk yourself: \u2018How is their quality of life being compromised?'\u201d she says. \u201cFor some residents, it\u2019s typically a physical limitation, like their range of motion, balance, abilities, something like that. For other residents, they\u2019re in physically good shape, but cognitively, socially, or emotionally, they\u2019re having challenges.\u201d\nAn example of a huge challenge for elderly loved ones if grief. \u201cUsually this population is experiencing a lot of grief because they are losing spouses, children, friends, and family members,\u201d she says. \u201cSo they start to feel very isolated or alone. And if grief is overtaking their quality of life, then their activities of daily living are compromised.\u201d\nOther challenges may include diminished self-care. \u201cAre they not taking their medications consistently?\u201d asks Greer. Make sure they\u2019re eating and bathing regularly, too.\nWhen Daily Tasks Become Difficult\nWatch for a change in everyday activities. When tasks become disruptions, it\u2019s time to consider other options. Examples include:\n\nHousehold appliances left on\nNeglected grooming and laundry\nExtreme anxiety\nTrouble taking medications\nUnpaid bills or other evidence of financial negligence\nSocial isolation\nTrouble navigating the home\n\nGreer says these signs rarely start as serious. At first, they\u2019re usually small inconveniences. But when they start to add up, it\u2019s time to seek out caregiver help.\nDo Your Research\nLearning the differences between each option will ensure your family members are taken care of at the level they need:\n\nIndependent Living: This is for seniors who appreciate freedom and privacy with on-call support. This arrangement could be perfect for aging relatives who still can function independently but would benefit from social and emotional support creating a network of friends and an easier life style with eating, cleaning, transportation and social needs.\nPersonal and Assisted Living: These are usually apartment-style facilities that include help for daily routines and various social activities.\n\nOnce you\u2019ve researched the different options relevant to your situation, you may feel prepared to make a decision. However, you should take one more step. \u201cSchedule an appointment and go visit the facility,\u201d Greer says.\nAccording to Greer, indications of a quality facility may not be as obvious as you\u2019d expect. \u201cThere are a few things you can observe right off the bat,\u201d she says. \u201cFirst is the cleanliness. How does it smell?\u201d\nTrust your gut when you visit and assess the spirit of the community. \u201cHow does the staff interact with you? If people don\u2019t want to be bothered or they\u2019re annoyed you\u2019re there, that\u2019s going to tell you something, as opposed to someone who\u2019s available, willing to answer questions for you, give you a tour, show you everything, welcome your questions, and welcome you into any part of the building,\u201d says Greer.\nIf you have trouble formulating questions, consider evaluating a real-life example. \u201cMost places have a model room where you can go in and everything is set up,\u201d says Greer. \u201cBut you want to see beyond that. When people come to our facility, we will show them, with their permission, a current resident\u2019s room. Because it\u2019s not the ideal setting, it\u2019s the real-life setting.\u201d\nWhat to Expect\nBoth you and your aging relative naturally want to dismiss the need for help. But Greer says if you anticipate denial, then you can work through it together. Mutual fears are the most important topic to tackle. Acknowledging concerns will pave the way for a smooth transition, whether you make the decision tomorrow or in a few years.\n\u201cWhen they get into a community setting, they have a lot of choice \u2014 they can participate in one or all the activities, and some residents do,\u201d says Greer. \u201cOthers may only socialize for three meals a day, but at least during that time they get some connection with peers and the staff keeping an eye on then.\u201d\nUltimately, this will be a fruitful, invigorating decision for your loved one. \u201cSo many of them start to come out of that isolation, and that\u2019s always exciting to see \u2026 when someone sort of blooms and comes alive again,\u201d she says. \u201cIt\u2019s very rewarding.\u201d\nThe discussion about transitioning to a care facility is one that should start early and be ongoing. It\u2019s nuanced, but with these tips, you know you\u2019re starting on the right foot.\nUPMC has facilities to fit the activity level and care requirements of every senior. Learn more about UPMC\u2019s Senior Communities.