Is It Time for Home Care? Six Signs that a Senior Needs Help

If your aging parent, spouse, or loved one is happy living independently in their home there will likely come a time when they will need some extra assistance in order to manage daily tasks and chores.

Home care is provided by a professional caregiver, and is typically non-medical support to help older adults lead a safer, healthier, and more independent life as they age in place.

Senior and homecare aid

Home care is also tailored to an individual’s strengths—different people require different services. As Ellen Jaworski, Assistant Director of Home Care at Seniors At Home, says, “Home care can be anything from providing respite to a primary family caregiver, to adding a little extra support to the regular routine, to around-the-clock care depending on the needs of the older adult and their family members.”

For many families, the decision to hire home care is not always an easy one, especially if your loved one maintains that they are fine on their own. So when should you insist on it?

Below are six signs that a senior that you care about may need help at home:

1. Walking with an unsteady gait

Have you noticed your loved one holding on to furniture or the walls as they navigate through their home? Have they recently had a fall or a few ‘near falls’? More than one third of older adults fall down each year in the United States and up to 30% of those who fall will suffer moderate to severe injuries. These injuries often lead to the end of a senior’s ability to live independently. By preventing a fall in the first place, your loved one will have a much better chance to remain healthy and in their chosen environment. A caregiver can offer a caring hand when walking, moving, and climbing stairs, and he/she can serve as an extra set of eyes to ensure that the home is as safe as possible.

2. Recovering from an illness or injury

If your loved one has been ill, or is coming home from the hospital, they may need extra support as they recover. A caregiver can prepare meals, assist with household chores, remind your loved one to take their medication on time, and provide respite care for family members. If your loved one is bedridden Seniors At Home caregivers have special training in body mechanics to ensure safe movement from one place to another when dressing, bathing, or using the restroom.

3. No longer safe to drive

Driving is one of our greatest expressions of independence, but for many older adults there comes a time when age-related conditions make it impossible to drive safely. Asking your loved one to give up the car keys can be difficult, but having a caregiver available a few days a week to help with errands and get to appointments and social events can ease the transition. Some older adults even enjoy it when others take the wheel and feel relieved that they no longer need to drive to get where they need to go.

4. Falling behind on daily tasks and chores

If you notice that your loved one’s once tidy house is cluttered and dusty, their bills are unpaid, or they are falling behind on personal hygiene, it could be a sign that it is time to look for help. Whether due to mobility limitations or changes in cognition, it is common for older adults to find that household chores, planning and organization, or personal care (such as dressing and bathing) become more challenging or even unsafe.

Home care can reduce stress or difficulty around housekeeping and ensure your loved one is safe and comfortable. Knowing someone is there to support your loved one throughout the day can also bring you peace of mind.

5. Struggling with meals

Has your loved one lost their interest in cooking or stopped eating regular meals? Maybe you notice that they stock the refrigerator and then go out shopping for items they already have? While it is common for metabolism and appetite to change as we age it is important that older adults get the nutrition they need to stay strong and healthy.

Hiring a caregiver is a helpful solution if your parent needs assistance getting to the grocery store, making meal plans, or if they don’t have the energy or ability to cook. It’s also important to remember that home care can be adapted to your loved one’s needs and wants.

“Home care should enhance and complement someone’s established routine,” says Ellen. “If someone still loves cooking, but grocery shopping and carrying bags upstairs has become too taxing, home care can strike the balance. Supporting someone with a little extra help leaves more energy for the activities they still love and enjoy.”                                                                                                                                                            

6. Becoming lonely or isolated

If your loved one lives alone and is noticeably less active and social than they used to be, it could be time to intervene. According to a study in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, older adults experiencing social isolation and loneliness face a higher risk of mortality than their peers. Isolation can also increase a person’s risk of dementia and depression, significantly reducing their quality of life.

If you believe it is time to try home care but your loved one is reluctant, it can help to start incrementally. Ellen adds, “There are times that all of us, regardless of age, will need help, yet it is not unusual for someone to deny that they need it. When possible, introducing home care slowly and increasing care over time can be helpful to bring the person around.”

If your loved one is resisting the idea of home care, read our recommendations for talking to an older adult who refuses care.

Seniors At Home can help you determine your loved one’s home care needs. Call us at 415.449.3700 or contact us online.