Gene was about to turn 92 years old and was relatively healthy. He was able to take care of his day to day needs with a little bit of support from his daughter, Ellen.
But, one day when visiting his house, his daughter saw a huge scratch on the side of his car. When questioned about it, he had no idea what had happened. He hadn’t even noticed. Maybe someone had crashed into him? Or maybe he had crashed into someone else? He couldn’t tell Ellen what had happened.
Either way, his daughter was no longer comfortable with him being alone. She felt like it was probably time to discuss some other options for Gene’s living situation. She didn’t want to risk another accident where he was harmed or harmed someone else.
Signs Your Loved One Can’t Live Alone
In addition to the accident, Ellen had noticed that Gene’s house was no longer meticulously kept. He had lost a bit of weight over the last few months. When she visited there was little food available in the pantry, so she always brought food with her or took him out to eat. These signs indicated that maybe Gene needed a bit more support at home.
The discussion of when a senior needs more care can be a sensitive one. Many seniors love to have their independence and fight to keep it. It can be a difficult discussion when their family feels that they are no longer safe at home alone.
A few signs to look for that your loved one may need more care or support for day to day tasks include:
- Minor car accidents or collisions.
- Minor accidents at home, like forgetting the stove or coffee pot on.
- Lack of personal hygiene or a change in household cleanliness.
- Difficulty remembering medications or appointments.
- Falls or challenges with mobility.
- Unexplained weight changes.
- Complaints of social isolation.
- Signs of depression or low mood.
- Difficulty cooking or preparing meals for themselves.
- A lack of food available in the home.
- Challenges with managing personal finances or keeping up with mail.
Although every situation is different, these are all possible signs that your loved one may need a bit more support around the house.
Steps You Can Take Immediately
Most families only begin to discuss advanced care for their loved one when there is a safety concern. Even with support, it can take time to get the right type of care in place.
But, there is a lot you can do to keep you loved one safe in the time being. These are also things that could help a caregiver keep your loved one safe, if you decide that is the best option for you. Here are a few tips:
- Assess the house for safety hazards.
- Help prevent falls by clearing clutter from the floor.
- Remove any cords or rugs that might cause a fall.
- Add grab bars in the bathroom and stair railings.
- Make sure there is proper lighting in the home.
- Keep communication simple and easily accessible.
- Have your loved one wear a medical alert device.
- Provide interim support with household chores and bills.
- Arrange transportation if necessary.
Once your loved one’s environment is safe for the immediate future, it is time to start the discussion of a long-term plan.
Tips for Talking to Your Loved One About Care
When Ellen approached Gene about his need for support, initially he was resistant. After all, he had been living independently for many years and felt like the car accident was just an isolated incident. Ellen knew better, she really felt it was time to get help. After a few months of back and forth, he finally agreed to complete an assessment to evaluate his needs.
If you are trying to start the conversation about what to do when your loved one can’t live alone anymore, it is important to start early. As in the case with Gene, it can take many months of discussion back and forth.
Your loved one should always be involved in the process as much as possible. They are, after all, giving up control and independence, which can be very difficult. It is important to keep them informed throughout the various steps of the process, so they don’t feel like you are trying to take over control of their lives.
It is also acceptable to start slow. Pick one or two things they might need help with, like cleaning or cooking and get them help in those areas. When they see the benefit of having some assistance, they may be more open to getting help in other areas.
Also, when making a decision about your loved one take into account your own needs and responsibilities. Is it an option for your loved one to live with you? Do you have other demands of your time or schedule? Do you live in a different city and your loved one won’t move? Are you healthy enough yourself to provide the necessary care?
There is a lot to consider when taking over the responsibility for an elderly loved one. You can still be a loving and supportive child, even if you hire outside help. The important thing is to make the decision that is best for everyone. It is worse if you get yourself into an unsustainable situation and become emotionally or physically burnt out.
Having a frank discussion about cost ahead of time can also help smooth over the whole process. Senior care costs money. Senior Helpers can help you understand some of the costs involved, but it still needs to be part of the discussion when speaking to your loved one about care.
Companion Care for the Elderly
Ellen didn’t feel like Gene was safe living alone anymore, so she and her brother decided the best course of action, for now, was to find non-medical elderly companion care for him.
Gene was a healthy 92 years old. He did have to walk with a cane occasionally and he was a little hard of hearing, but for the most part all he needed was for someone to check in on him regularly and accompany him on daily errands.
Non-medical elderly companion care can do just that. This type of care is designed for the senior that may be having a few challenges, but does not need to be or desire to be removed from their home. An elderly care companion can help with meal prep, light housekeeping, and transportation. They can provide socialization to improve your loved one’s mental well-being.
This may be the best option for a loved one who is relatively healthy like Gene, but just needs a bit more support. Companion care can help prevent accidents or other medical problems from developing, allowing your loved one to stay at home for longer. The goal with companion care is to provide support, while maintaining familiar comforts, privacy, and self-sufficiency.
Care providers are basically your eyes, ears, and support for when you are not available. This type of lower level care can be seen as a preventive measure for your loved one’s long-term safety. Companion care may be the first step for a parent who can lo longer live alone.
Other Elderly Care Services
There are many different types of care seniors may require. For the elderly in situations like Gene, where they are generally healthy, companion care may be able to meet many of their needs.
Other services that seniors may need can include:
- Help with errands
- Appointment management
- Cooking and meal prep
- Light housekeeping
- Safety maintenance and evaluation
- Medication management
- Dementia/Alzheimer’s care
- Post-surgical care
- Advanced medical care
Depending on the needs of your loved one, some of these services can be offered at home, whereas others cannot. The goal is always to keep your loved one at home as long as possible while it is still safe for them. But, to determine the level of care their needs must first be assessed by the care provider to determine the best course of action.
Senior Helpers LIFE Profile
The type of care your loved one needs should be tailored to their individual situation. At Senior Helpers Scottsdale, we use a specialized data-driven assessment tool called the LIFE Profile to evaluate your loved one’s specific needs. LIFE stands for Live, Independence, Function, and Evaluation. It utilizes over 15 years of research to help identify risk factors that are preventing your senior loved one from aging well in their own home.
The profile evaluates:
- Medical condition management
- Burden of Care
- Quality of Life
With this information we will be able to develop a personalized Senior Helpers SmartCare Plan. This is an actionable plan that will help you and our team provide care that is tailored to your loved one’s specific needs. It will also help provide day-to-day direction to caregivers. The plan measures progress and adjusts as your senior’s needs change over time.
When mom and dad can no longer live alone, it is important to get support through this challenging time to make the best decision for everyone. At Senior Helpers Scottsdale we are committed to creating a personalized, actionable, and sustainable plan of care for you and your loved one. Get in touch today to begin your LIFE Assessment.