Maintaining one’s independence is a precious freedom that is especially valued in this country. As a nation founded on the ideals of self-sufficiency, the idea of autonomy permeates the American culture. However, the issue with this mentality comes when an older adult no longer can rely solely on themselves. Therefore, having a plan is critical.
For adult children watching this process unfold for their aging parents, safety becomes a crucial factor. Before long, a loved one may face a myriad of questions: How long can they remain independent? Is it time for in-home help? Will they be open to in-home care? Is in-home care affordable?
Deciding on care for a senior loved one is a tough decision. There is a lot to process and many factors will go into the decision. We will explore some of the essential elements that you should consider.
It is stressful for older adults to contemplate or even imagine what in-home help might mean. Will they have to leave their (often longtime) home? How will they feel about having a stranger in their space and home (learn more about preparing your loved one and the home for a caregiver)? Can they afford it? As a caregiver or loved one, having these conversations can be challenging for many reasons: the insinuation or outright discussion of a person’s decreasing ability to care for themselves, the sense of loss, change, and even the thought of an unknown future.
To prepare for this discussion, learn some of the warning signs that could indicate a problem:
- Self-care. Observe how your loved one is completing their personal care. Is he or she bathing less frequently than usual? Are they changing their clothes regularly? Do they appear unkempt?
A decrease in personal hygiene and appearance can indicate that a senior parent may need additional assistance in their life. Sometimes caregivers can quickly solve these issues by adding a safety aid, such as a shower chair or grab bar. However, in more extreme circumstances, difficulties with personal care can be indicative of a more severe issue, such as depression or memory problems.
- Diet. Watch for unexplained weight loss or gain, spoiled food in the fridge, or a bare pantry.
- Home maintenance. As with hygiene, if you see signs that an older adult is unable or unwilling to take care of their home—including everything from basic housekeeping to bill paying–additional assistance may be needed.
If you see troubling signs in any or all of these areas, it may be time to learn more about how you can provide additional support.
Choosing a Provider and Services
Whether you decide upon an in-home option or a facility, it can be hard to know where to start—there are many providers and types of services. Start by assessing the situation of the person who needs care. Do they need full-time help, or just a few hours a day? What, specifically, will your loved one need help with to be safe and healthy: household tasks, showering, a companion when they run errands?
For example, Always Here Home Care provides a range of services that address both client interests and fit seamlessly into their lifestyle. From meeting basic social, personal, and domestic needs to more advanced care from more a wellness professional (nurse) or dementia specialist, you can find the right service to help your loved one live their best life.
Plan on talking to as many facilities or agencies as you can. You will learn a little more about what is possible and what you need with every conversation. If you choose a facility, AARP has a helpful questionnaire that should get you closer to understanding what you need.
Deciding on a care provider can be a stressful, anxiety-inducing process. However, like many things: Once you have done it and it is in the rearview, everyone concerned is better off and safer than before.