Most seniors today report that they would prefer to stay in their homes as long as possible. But as people get older, a number of age-related conditions can make living at home increasingly difficult.
If you’ve noticed that your aging parent isn’t able to take care of themselves or their homes the way they used to, and suspect that an assisted living community or care home wouldn’t be a good fit for them, it may be time to consider in-home care. Today there are a number of different home care options that can help your parents keep on top of routines and stay happy and healthy, while remaining in their home.
1. Physical Symptoms
When you give your parent a hug, you may notice that they feel thinner and frailer than before. Or maybe you’ve spotted bruises on their body. These types of physical symptoms may be signs that your parent needs some extra help at home. Significant weight loss can be a sign that your aging parent is struggling to prepare meals for themselves, or that they have trouble getting around the kitchen or possibly remembering how to cook properly (a sign of dementia).
Bruises tend to be evidence of falls or other accidents, although your parent may be reluctant to admit that this is happening. An in-home caregiver can help ensure that your parent is getting the proper nutrition and can help them prevent falls.
2. Decreased Mobility
Trouble walking and moving around can make it tough to complete routine activities of daily living, making in-home care a much-needed help. Mobility issues can have far-reaching effects – making it tough to get around the house (especially if stairs are involved), shower, or go out to buy groceries or for other errands and social visits. This can lead to a host of other problems, from malnutrition to social isolation. Home caregivers can help your parent get where they need to go, on grocery shopping trips and other errands, and provide valuable companionship.
3. Decline in Hygiene and Grooming
One of the biggest indicators that your aging parent needs in-home help is a noticeable decline in hygiene and grooming. This may include infrequent bathing, a strong smell of urine or a general unkempt appearance. Typically hygiene and grooming habits decline when a person is no longer able to keep up with these routines, either physically or due to cognitive decline.
It can be hard for adult children to intervene when it comes to toileting, bathing and other intimate activities of daily living. Even if this isn’t an issue for your family, there will likely come times when you or another family caregiver will need a break. In these cases, personal care assistants can help make sure your parent is able to continue their normal grooming and hygiene habits.
We all forget things sometimes – the name of that book you read, whatever it is you walked into the room to get. But increasing incidents of forgetfulness over time – especially when it comes to important to-dos like taking medication or paying bills – may indicate that home care help is needed. If your parent’s memory issues are interfering with their everyday activities, it’s a good indication that they should see a physician about their memory problems, as these may be signs of cognitive decline. Working with an in-home care assistant, you can help ensure that your parent stays on top of their normal activities, despite any cognitive decline.
5. Trouble Staying on Top of Finances
If you notice that your parent has a pile of unopened financial statements or warnings about unpaid bills, this can be a major sign that it’s time for home care. Suddenly applying for multiple new credit cards or signing up for pricey memberships or subscriptions can also be red flags.
Trouble handling finances when they were able to do so previously and poor judgment are both common early signs of Alzheimer’s disease. Although in-home caregivers should not be given access to your parent’s financial information (if needed, your parent should instead designate a trusted family member or other loved one), they can still help remind your mom or dad to stay organized and pay bills.
6. A Dirty, Cluttered Home
Difficulty keeping up with housework is a common indication that an elderly person needs in-home assistance. They may be unable to perform these tasks the way they did before due to mobility issues, cognitive decline, or even depression.
Some signs that your parent is struggling to keep up with the housework may include dust, dirt or grime in areas that used to be clean, excessive clutter or piles of dirty dishes or laundry. Many in-home caregivers provide housekeeping assistance such as cleaning countertops and appliances, sweeping the floor, running the dishwasher and doing laundry.
7. Loss of Interest in Activities and Hobbies
Have you noticed that your parent no longer seems to enjoy many of the hobbies they once enjoyed? Maybe their previously well-tended backyard garden has been neglected, or their weekly card game with friends has gone by the wayside. You might notice that your mom or dad has even given up more sedentary activities such as knitting, reading or watching a favorite TV show.
Losing interest in hobbies and activities can be a sign of numerous underlying problems, notably depression. While an in-home caregiver won’t be able to solve these medical or mental health issues, they can help ensure that your parent adheres to treatment plans, and can provide much-needed help so that your mom or dad is still able enjoy favorite pastimes.