Do you have a family member who is getting older and you’re worried about them living on their own? You may have noticed that their balance is off, or they are forgetting things more often than they used to. Our culture often makes it seem like moving into a nursing home is the only option for elderly people who are in need of help with their daily lives, but that isn’t always the case. Some people just need a daily visit to help clean or assistance with their medications when family members can’t be around. That’s when a home care plan can be extremely beneficial for the whole family! Instead of leaving their home to move into another facility, your loved one can “age in place,” and enjoy their life with minimal interruption.
Since November is National Home Care & Hospice Month, it is a great time to check in on older family members who might be ready for some help at home from a trained professional. Here are some signs to look for to confirm if someone needs this assistance.
Problems with cleanliness – hygiene and clutter
Has your loved one who typically dresses impeccably or keeps a spotless house had a harder time lately keeping clean? Whether it’s personal hygiene or household chores, cleaning can become harder as we age, either because of physical limitations or memory difficulties. You might first notice their clothes becoming more and more unkempt if laundry has become harder for them to keep track of. If you can, visit their home periodically. If messes and clutter are becoming larger and personal hygiene is slipping, this could be a red flag that they need some regular help.
Memory problems and confusion
Several age-related diseases start in a very subtle way. Dementia, Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s all present symptoms at first that just seem like someone is prone to confusion or clumsiness. Within a short time, however, the diseases can progress to a point of concern. Be mindful of your family member’s presence of mind. They may start to miss important dates and appointments, so ask them to share their calendar with you in order to follow up with them. A previously happy-go-lucky person might become moody, as well, for several reasons. Frequent pain, discomfort or confusion might prevent them from expressing themselves fully, resulting in frustration. Talk with them regularly so you are able to notice any changes of behavior or personality.
Accidents at home and on the road
One of the most alarming signs that someone needs help as a senior is an accident such as a fall at home or a fender-bender on the road. There may be smaller signs leading up to an incident as well, such as stumbling over objects on the floor, cooking burns, difficulty navigating steps, or erratic driving from being unable to maneuver the steering wheel or control the pedals. Many elderly people experience loss of coordination as they age for a variety of reasons, but frequent accidents are a signal that you should look into home care options as a family.
It’s natural that these topics may be difficult to discuss with your loved ones. It can be frustrating and even embarrassing to admit that we are no longer able to do the things we used to, so your elderly family member might take some convincing to accept it. Reassure them that you only have their best interests at heart. With a home care plan, they can often maintain their routines and keep their own schedule. A trained care professional will be additional assistance to keep them safe and healthy – in their own space.