Are you the family member for a loved one that seems unable to complete certain tasks or activities around the home? As adults get older, they may not like to admit that certain things they used to do with ease have become cumbersome, time-consuming, and difficult, but if you are the primary caregiver for your loved one, you may feel that you are unable to provide them as much assistance or care as what they actually need. You may also feel stretched too thin between caregiving, your job, children, or your own personal goals.
It is important for you and your loved one to discuss the possibility of professional care, including in-home caregivers or moving to an assisted living community.
Signs Your Loved One Might Need Professional Care
Recent Injury or Illness
If your loved one has recently experienced a fall or other accident, were they able to properly respond or get themselves medical help? As we age, the probability of accidents or incidents occurring dramatically increase. If your loved one is living on their own, but is unable to seek out medical assistance when these things do happen, this is a major warning sign that they need some type of professional care.
Likewise, if they are sick do they get treatment in a timely manner? Some illnesses or injuries that go untreated can develop into chronic illnesses or reoccurring injuries. Perhaps your loved one was unable to drive him or herself to the doctor’s office when they had the flu and now they have developed chronic bronchitis or worse, pneumonia.
Difficulty Performing Everyday Tasks
For parents who live alone with out-of-state children, keeping track of their everyday health can become hard, which is why a professional caregiver or care home can help. Your loved may also be experiencing increased difficulty in conducting ADLs (activities of daily living) or IADLS (instrumental activities of daily living). Examples of these tasks are showering, doing laundry, cooking meals, and housekeeping. Normally, a person should be able to complete these tasks without the help of someone else or without struggling. Ask your loved one if they are having trouble with any of the mentioned tasks. If left unassisted, failing to perform ADLs can lead to a fast decrease in health.
Change in Physical Appearance or Cleanliness
It goes without saying to keep a close watch on your loved one’s physical health, but also monitor their ability to practice good hygiene and their ability to keep their house clean and safe. Their physical health or demeanor will tell you a lot about how they are managing on their own. Has your loved one noticeably lost weight? If your loved one is having difficulty cooking themselves meals, or getting to the grocery store, this is a big sign they would benefit from assisted living. If your loved one is unable to get out on their own or if they have difficulty moving around the house on their own, these would also be indicators that they may be in need of professional help.
Your loved one may appear more frail or fragile than you remember. They may experience trouble when moving or lifting objects or they may have difficulty standing for any period of time. Do you notice that your loved one has limited mobility, balance or strength? These symptoms may indicate an inability to get around on their own without the assistance of another person.
Home Care or Assisted Living?
Ultimately, the choice to bring in professional care is between you and your loved one. Typically, the decision will be home care or moving into an assisted living facility. But which is better for your loved one?
Home care is a great option if your loved one wants and is able to remain at home. Caregivers can assist with non-medical care, like laundry, cooking, transportation, or medication reminders. Care can range from a few hours to 24/7.
In an assisted living community, they would be well cared for by a team of professionals, they would be able to socialize with their peers, and they would be in a safe environment with around-the-clock assistance. However, seniors might not always want to leave their home for this more unfamiliar option.
Don’t be afraid to ask questions regarding your loved one’s health, either to them or to their primary care provider. Discuss with their doctor your concern for your loved one’s safety while they are living alone and independently. Regardless of what you and your loved one decide, the most important thing is that they get the proper care they need to remain safe and maintain their quality of life.
For more information about deciding if it's time for professional care, review our 10 Warning Signs checklist. Access our free resources by first finding your local Caring Senior Service.