Deciding on In-Home Care
While many seniors live happy, healthy, and independent lives, the unfortunate truth of the aging process is that the mental and physical toll it takes on seniors can sometimes make even basic tasks difficult or even impossible to accomplish on their own. If or when that occurs, it’s time to make a decision to ensure the continuing health and longevity of the senior in your life.
It can be difficult to make sure your elderly loved ones receive the care they need to maintain a decent and healthy standard of living, and making that call is a decision that should not be made lightly. Seniors are usually too proud or stubborn to admit that they need help, so the responsibility often falls on family members to be observant for any of the tell tale signs that their loved ones are beginning to have trouble with normal, daily tasks.
If your loved one is having trouble performing cleaning or hygiene tasks, if, for instance you’ve noticed an increase in the clutter or cleanliness of the house, or a decrease in sanitary conditions or deviation from established personal care and bathing, it may be time to consider that the everyday tasks of cleaning and caring for oneself have become too difficult to manage alone.
Signs like weight loss or a fridge that is routinely empty or containing spoiled food are indicators that your loved one is having difficulty obtaining or preparing food, as well as providing adequate nutrition for themselves. Also of particular concern is the sudden appearance of any bruises or injuries, as that could be indicative of suffering a falling incident, a sure sign that your senior loved one needs some help.
A change in medical status is also a consideration. Chronic medical conditions can require more and more management as someone living with one gets older, frequently becoming beyond the ability of even an otherwise healthy adult to properly manage. Changes in mental status too, such as the onset of dementia or Alzheimer’s can make it difficult, even dangerous, for an elderly loved one to be left alone all the time.
Diminished capability and a change in function doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s time to move your loved one into a nursing home or a care facility. Many seniors can manage just fine on their own, in their own home, with simply a little added help. And while the natural inclination is to provide this help yourself, being honest with yourself about the added stress this can put on you when already managing your work and home life, can help prevent taking on too much responsibility and ending up burned out or resentful.
Starting the conversation with your loved one about their need for help can be difficult. Many seniors are keen to maintain their independence, and might be reluctant or even hostile to the idea of having extra outside help. But opening up with the things you’ve noticed, your concern for their continued well-being, and emphasizing the benefit it would be to both of you to have some shared help, can be a successful strategy.