For most of us, independence and privacy is an important condition for a comfortable life. We each have our habits and methods of doing things, and life has a rhythm that just “fits” our personalities. But as people age and physical changes occur, we may find ourselves or our loved ones dealing with those changes ineffectively. Sooner or later the question starts ringing in our heads, “When should I look for help?” But then we think, “Oh, I don’t need help. I don’t want to be a burden to anyone”; “I can’t tell Mom what to do – she’d never listen to me, anyway”; “Dad would never accept help, he’s too proud”; or “It’s not time yet — let’s wait.” And so we wait and do what we can ourselves, all the while still wondering, “When should I look for help?”
The good news is we don’t have to guess. There are some common indicators that help us tell when it’s time to get some help, be it a senior living facility, home-care services, or adult day care. We don’t have to wait for a crisis situation to throw everyone into a panic. In fact, the goal should be to avoid the crisis, for everyone’s benefit. Here are some indicators to consider when looking into senior home care options:
1. Physical Condition. Have you or your loved one been diagnosed with a medical condition that affects their daily living? Dressing, grooming, shaving, toileting, or eating problems could all be good indicators that you need help at home.
2. Personal Care. Are baths/showers being taken regularly? Is there any body odor? Are teeth and hair brushed and washed regularly? Are incontinence products worn if necessary and changed regularly and correctly? If not, an in-home caregiver can make all the difference.
3. Driving. Has driving become difficult, uncertain, or scary? Have reflexes and decision-making slowed? Have new dings, dents, or scratches appeared on vehicles? Home-care providers can help.
4. Nutrition. Is your loved one’s weight stable? Are they eating regularly and nutritiously? Is the refrigerator properly stocked with a variety of foods? Does all the food have current expiration dates? Is there spoiled food in the refrigerator or on the counters? Our in-home caregivers are experienced with signs of dementia and helping with nutrition.
5. Household Tasks. Are household chores such as dusting, laundry, and vacuuming being done regularly? Are bed linens changed regularly? Have household chores become frustrating, physically demanding, or time-consuming? Senior care services often include taking care of household tasks like this.
6. Socialization. Does your loved one often experience loneliness, despair, depression, frustration, irritability, or anxiety? Is there fear or insecurity about going out of the house? Home-care services can provide companionship.
7. Mental Health. Are there memory lapses? Is there difficulty finding the right words? Is there inconsistency between words and action? Is anxiety or moodiness evident? Find help at home to keep their mind active.
8. Medication. Are medications being taken regularly and on time? Are medications being refilled on schedule? Does the senior understand what the medications are being taken for? Private home care can ensure all medications are being taken appropriately.
9. Finances, Mail, Paperwork. Is the senior having difficulty managing their checkbook, finances, bills, and personal affairs? Are there past-due notices arriving? Is mail piling up? Is there a reasonable amount of cash on hand? Are important documents or similar items like purses, wallets, and keys being misplaced frequently or for long periods of time? Are they appearing in unusual places? In-home caregivers can ensure all paperwork is adequately taken care of.
10. Safety, Security, Sanitation. Are appliances being left on such as the stove or coffee pot? Does the senior fall asleep with cigarettes burning? Is the house too hot or too cold? Is the house always unlocked? Has the senior fallen in the past six months? Have there been multiple falls? Is there clutter on the floor? Is trash piling up in or around the house? Are toilets functioning properly? Is pet debris evident? Senior care can make sure all three of these categories aren’t negatively impacting your senior’s life.
Family members often see the changes in the way a senior moves, acts, thinks, and responds to situations around them, but they often dismiss them until one or two things happen: either the family begins to spend so much time helping the senior that they have little time for their own responsibilities, or the senior experiences a physical or medical crisis. Each of these results in undue stress for the family and the senior. Elderly home care can help solve this stress.
If you have a concern with even one set of indicators, then it’s time to acknowledge it, learn more about what is causing it, and what options are available to overcome it. Speak openly, calmly, and honestly about the issue and the type of assistance needed to overcome it. Frequently, simple changes can make a big improvement. We encourage you to be proactive and avoid a crisis situation that throws everyone into an emotional reaction. Calm, rational transitions are easier on everyone than stressful ones are. Finally, keep your efforts as informal as possible. Rather than going through the house like an inspector with a checklist, make your observations through normal, casual interaction. Make a mental note when you see things that are of concern. Keep conversations non-threatening and cooperative. Make every effort to respect the senior’s wishes while assisting with their needs. If you do so and find an in-home caregiver could be in the senior’s best interest, contact Help & Care today. We also offer a free in-home assessment for senior care.