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Caregiver Insights: Senior In Home Care

10 Signs It Might Be Time for In-Home Care

By Patrick Philbrick-Director on Jun 17, 2015 5:55:46 PM

[vc_row fullwidth="false" attached="false" padding="0" visibility="" animation=""][vc_column border_color="" visibility="" width="1/1"][vc_column_text disable_pattern="true" align="left" margin_bottom="0"]Making the decision to help an aged adult invite someone into their home to help them is a difficult one, both physically and emotionally. What matters most is you want your loved one to be well and safe. You may ask yourself, how can you feel confident whether the circumstance suggests that your loved one shouldn't be living alone any longer?

Although each situation is different, Harmony Home Care suggests that by looking for the following ten signs, you'll get some valuable information that will help you in making the right decision.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row fullwidth="false" attached="false" padding="0" visibility="" animation=""][vc_column border_color="" visibility="" width="1/1"][vc_column_text disable_pattern="true" align="left" margin_bottom="0"]

1. Big Picture Signs it might be time for home care

Keep these huge red flags in mind. Sometimes, the situation makes it more obvious then other times, so it is wise to begin thinking about making new living arrangements.

Look for:

  • Recent close calls or accidents that might have occurred. Did your loved one fall or take a slip, has there been a medical scare (or even worse) ? Who responded? How long did their response take? Sure, accidents happen, but as people age, the chance of them happening over and over again increases.
  • Slow recoveries. How does the person you are caring after recover or suffer through their most recent sickness (i.e. a bad cold/or the flu)? Was he/she willing/able to seek medical assistance when necessary, or did their cold last winter deteriorate into a situation that was much worse?
  • Deterioration of long-lasting health conditions. With progressive illnesses like congestive heart failure or dementia, you may see quick declines or it may be gradual, but their presence will mean your loved one will need attention either way.
  • Increased difficulty handling daily living's many tasks. This includes small tasks many people might not even consider. There are many skills necessary for independent living: shopping, cooking, dressing, managing medications, doing laundry, and so forth. Social workers, doctors, and other geriatric experts evaluate these during a functional assessment - this may be one way of getting an experts advice for situations. Difficulty with these tasks can sometimes be a sign that triggers more in-home care/help.

2. Close & personal signs it may be time for in-home care

Give your loved ones a hug. You can't always find clues from afar; especially without seeing the person on a daily basis, you may learn lots more with a simple touch.

Look for

Seeming more frail: Have you noticed something "different" about your loved one's build and strength when hugging them? Can they get up out of a chair easily? Does he or she appear unsteady or have trouble balancing themselves? Make this comparison since you saw them last time.

Strange body odors: It's unfortunate how a gentle hug can also reveal changed personal hygiene habits. This can be caused by a variety of issues from depression and memory trouble as well as physical troubles.

Noticeable weight gain: There are various causes like being slowed down by an injury or diabetes. It can also be caused by dementia (like when a loved one does not remember eating, he or she might indulge in snacks and meals all day long)

Noticeable weight loss: Do you notice he/she feels thinner than they normally were? Have their clothes gotten looser? Many health issues, from cancer to depression, may cause loss of weight. Someone who's having trouble going out shopping, or can't remember how to cook (or even eat) may lose weight; check their refrigerator and examine their food-preparation skill.

Changes in appearance: Does their makeup and hair look okay? Are they wearing clean clothes? If someone's known for crisp ironed dress shirts now wearing dirty sweatshirts they may have lost the dexterity to button up or might be losing strength for using an iron and ironing board. A man who used to be clean-shaven with a scraggy beard might be forgetting to shave(or have forgotten how to shave)

3. Social signs it may be time for in-home care

Be realistic about your loved one's social connections. One's social circle tends to shrink with aging, this may cause safety and health implications.

Look for

Spending days never leaving the home Sometimes this happens since that person can't drive anymore or fears using public transport by themselves and they don't have a companion to come with them.

Clues he/she is cutting back on interests and activities Have hobbies been abandoned? Have their club memberships been given up? Their library card going without use? There's a lot of reasons that people cut back, but showing interest in almost nothing and dropping out of everything is a big red flag of depression.

Signs of active friendship Is your loved one still getting together for outings or lunches with friends or visiting their neighbors? What about other group events or religious activities? Lacking companionship is a sign of heart problems and depression in an elderly adults. If their friends have moved away or died, having another person around may be a lifesaver.

Someone checking up on a regular basis If it isn't you or another member of the family, who is doing this? Will your loved one consider a personal alarm system, a home-safety alarm, or a daily calling service?

Worst case scenario plans In case of an earthquake, flood, fire or another disaster, who is on standby for their assistance. Does your loved one know what to do?

 

4. Financial signs it may be time for in-home care

Examine the mail. Your loved one's mail may give you sometimes-overlooked clues about hoe she or he has managed their money, one of the common early warning signs for cognitive trouble.

Look for:

Piles of mail scattered around. Discovering a lot of mail spread around may raise concerns about how insurance, bills, and other important matters are getting managed. (A pile of mail also presents a trip and fall hazard)

Personal mail is unopened. Everyone ignores junk mail, but not many of us won't open a hand-addressed letter.

Bills are unopened. This could be an indicator that your loved one has trouble managing their finance - this is a common first sign of dementia.

Letters from creditors, insurers, or banks. Normal business letters ar not cause for alarm. But if they refer to overdue payments, recent accidents, an overdrawn balance, or other negative events it's cause for concern.

Many unread, crisp magazines. They might have unknowingly renewed several subscriptions that they don't need.

Charity thank-you messages. Old adults are oftentimes preyed upon by scammers. Even if they're always been fiscally-responsible they could be vulnerable if they are having trouble with thinking things through (one of the common signs of Alzheimer's disease) Sometimes a charity repeatedly seeks donations from givers, and your loved one might not recall having donated before.

5. Driving signs it may be time for in-home care

Go for a drive with your loved one driving, if they still drive. Independent living in modern culture depends often on ones driving ability (or having other transport options)

Look for

Warning lights on the dash. Examine their dashboard when you ride with them. Are the vehicle's gas, oil, antifreeze and windshield fluid levels sufficient?

Do they buckle their seatbelt right away? Even someone suffering from mild dementia will usually obey basic driving rules. If he/she forgets this step its worrisome.

Dents or scratches on their car. Check the cars surface when you get in and out. Damage markings may be a sign of careless driving.

Signs of Dangerous Driving. Someone with an impaired driving ability is more likely to drift from their lanes, drive lower than the speed limit, tailgate, mix up the brake and gas pedals, and show slowed reaction times.

Preoccupation, tension, or they're easily distracted. They might keep the radio off, or won't be willing to participate in conversations when they're driving. Your loved one might be avoiding highway driving, certain routes, or driving in the rain or at night - a safe way to keep themselves in check but also signs of declining abilities.

6. Signs in the kitchen that it may be time for in-home care

Check out their kitchen, from cupboards to the fridge and their oven. Since so much time's spent here, you will learn lots.

Look for

Expired or Stale foods. Everyone buys more than needed. Look for clues their food is not just old, for example things go un-noticed: sour, moldy milk they still use, or well past due expiration dates.

Duplicate Same Items. Ten bottles of mustard? Enough cereal to last two years? This is often a clue that someone doesn't remember what they bought last time and what's still in stock in their home.

Freezer is filled with TV Dinners. Maybe they're bought for the sake of convenience, but TV dinners don't tend to support healthy diets. If there isn't enough fresh food in their house (because its too challenging for them to cook or procure food) it may be time for your loved one to get help preparing meals.

Appliances Broken. Check all of them: coffeemaker, microwave, washer, dryer, and the toaster -- any devices you know he or she uses (or used to) routinely.

Signs of fires. Are knobs on the stove charred? Singed pot bottoms? Burned edges of the potholders? Also look for a fire extinguisher that has been discharged, disassembled smoke detectors, or a box of baking soda around the stove. Accidents do happen; ask them for the stories behind what you find. An accidental fire is a common household danger for older people.

7. Signs around the home that it may be time for in-home care

Check out their living area. The most obvious signs sometimes are hard to recognize since we've become used to them.

Look for

Signs of slipping housekeeping. Uncleaned spills are a common warning sign of dementia; the person may lack the follow-through to tidy. Keep on the lookout for bathroom mold, cobwebs, thick dust, or other signs of slack. A physical limitation may mean your loved one could use help with housekeeping.

A lot of clutter. Inability to throw things away might be a signs of physical or neurological issues. This is obviously more of a worry for neatniks than in chronic slobs. Pet toys or papers all over the floors present tripping hazards.

Bathroom clutter and grime. One common issue: Loved ones make an effort tidying up their living area but overlook the bathrooms. Or the guest bathroom's clean, but the one that person always uses is dirty (for example the master bathroom) This might present a true picture of how he/she keeps up.

8. Plant and pet-care signs it may be time for in-home care

Make sure and check up on how other living things fare. Inability to care for plants and pets reflects on self-care.

Look for

Plants dead, dying, or plain gone. Many of us have seen plants go dry at one point. Keep your eyes out for chronic neglect, especially in the home of a plant-lover.

Animals do not appear well tended. Common issues: cats with long claws, kitty litter not changed recently, dead fish in the tank. Overfeeding, poor grooming, and underfeeding are more red flags.

9. Home maintenance signs that it may be time for in-home care

Walk around their yard. Yard maintenance - or the lack thereof - might show clues showing your loved one is not doing well living alone any more.

Look for

Newspapers in the yard. Is the paper getting delivered and ignored? They might get picked up from the driveway but not those that get thrown in the yard.

Signs of Neglect. Search for discolored ceilings or siding which may be an indication of a leak. Check for a gutter full of leaves, broken fences or windows, or windows that haven't been cleaned.

Mail piling up in mailboxes. Go check outside - this is an indicator that he/she does not retrieve the mail on a regular basis.

 

10. Primary caregiver's signs it may be time for in-home care

Sometimes the information you're collecting is intangible - it has to do with your emotions and feelings, and the stress level of all those involved.

Look for

The emotional state of your loved one. Safety's critical, however emotional well-being is also important. If someone lives alone and suffers from loneliness or anxiety, that may tip the scale towards a decision not only based on safety and health reasons.

If your loved one has a full life, community connections and a close neighborhood, it is worth checking out as many in-home care solutions as possible rather than raising their levels of stress by pressing them to move out from their cherished home.

How you're doing. The decision to stay in one's own home is not primarily about yourself, the daughter, son, grandchild, caregiver -- your own level of exhaustion can make for a good barometer of decline in an older adults' abilities to care for themselves. To keep someone home may need a lot of care coordination or hands-on-support, which is time-consuming. If caring for your loved one is just plain stressing you out, or if your children or spouse are beginning to feel a collective strain from your caregiving actions, these are big signs that it is time to begin looking at alternative options.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]

Topics: Caregiver Information and Support, Living with Aging Parents, Senior Care Tips Sacramento CA