Admitting the need for help (and then actually accepting it) is not easy for people as they age. So, how will you know when someone you love needs help at home? One thing is certain: The person needing help isn't likely to be the one who tells you. Seniors have a strong desire to remain independent and retain control of their own lives for as long as possible. Typically, an older adult will downplay or hide any issues they have been experiencing until an accident or sudden decline in their health makes it plain that they need assistance. Most of us who are trying to care for our aging loved ones are often unable to participate in making care decisions before a crisis takes place, so the added stress of an unexpected hospitalization of fall complicates things even more.
One way to avoid being caught off-guard is to start regularly monitoring physical and mental abilities (ideally in person), encouraging proper legal and financial planning, and researching long-term care options. This will ensure you are prepared should your aging loved one begin to show signs of needing help. SIGNS HELP IS NEEDED AT HOME Look for these common indicators that an older adult may need help at home or an increased level of care. Difficulty Performing Activities of Daily Living
Bathing and grooming
Walking and transferring (e.g., moving from the bed to a chair)
Eating and drinking
Changes in Physical Function & Appearance
Noticeable weight loss due to poor diet, and/or difficulty cooking, eating, shopping for food, etc.
Wearing soiled clothing or dressing inappropriately for the season/weather due to difficulties dressing
Poor personal hygiene and unpleasant body odor as a result of infrequent showering or bathing
Unkempt hair, untrimmed nails, or poor oral hygiene indicating a noticeable decline in grooming habits and personal care
Bruises, wounds or other marks on the body that could indicate falls or changes in mobility
Noticeable burns on the skin may indicate a senior is experiencing problems cooking
Changes in Behavior and Mental Status
Lack of drive or motivation
Loss of interest in hobbies and activities
Difficulty keeping track of time
Failure to return phone calls to friends and family members
Changes in mood or extreme mood swings
Verbally or physically abusive behaviors
Changes in sleep patterns (e.g., insomnia or sleeping all day)
Neglecting Household Responsibilities
Inability to independently complete instrumental ADLs
Changes in household cleanliness and organization
Extreme clutter or evidence of hoarding
Stacks of unopened mail, late payment notices or bounced checks
Unpaid bills, calls from collectors or utilities being turned off
Spoiled food that doesn’t get thrown away
Little or no fresh, healthy food or overall low food supply
Stained or wet furniture or carpet
Urine odor in the house, which may indicate incontinence
Cookware or appliances with noticeable burn marks could indicate food has been left unattended while cooking or reheating
Failure to maintain outdoor areas with landscaping, snow removal, or garbage collection
Signs of unsafe driving (e.g., automobile dents and scratches)
Changes in Cognition, Memory & Judgement
Forgetfulness (e.g., forgetting to take medications or taking incorrect dosages, missing appointments, misplacing items)
Loss of reasoning skills
Consistent use of poor judgment (e.g., falling for scams or giving away money)
Difficulty performing familiar tasks
Frequently getting lost when walking or driving
Repetitive speech patterns
Inability to complete sentences
Impaired word-finding ability
Changes in personality or behavior
Poor personal hygiene and/or wearing the same clothes over and over
Inability to recall names of familiar people, objects or places
HIRING HOME CARE FOR AGING LOVED ONES If you believe your aging loved one is exhibiting any of the following warning signs, the next step is to speak with them about their changing abilities and care needs. It’s best to discuss the future sooner rather than later to ensure everyone is on the same page and avoid surprises. Broach the subject respectfully and in such a way that they are able to participate in identifying the underlying problem(s) and coming up with solutions.
Keep in mind that these red flags don’t necessarily mean a move to assisted living or a nursing home is warranted. However, their presence does indicate that some sort of daily supportive care is needed. For many families, hiring home help allows older adults to stay in the comfort of their own houses for as long as safely possible. That's where Favor Home Care comes in!
If you feel like your aging loved one could benefit from a little extra assistance with Activities of Daily Living or you need reassurance that your loved one is safe and well taken care of, give us a call at 501-725-2273 and let us help. Our Care Managers are available to answer any of your questions and concerns, and will navigate you to what's best for your loved one, not what's best for our bottom line.
Information for this article provided by Mike Campbell, author of When Mom & Dad Need Help.