You are facing a very common scenario- visiting mom or dad on a holiday or vacation, and something just seems “off”. You notice that things aren’t quite as “in order” as usual and they don’t have logical answers as to why. Your loved one may appear disheveled and you question whether they are bathing regularly. Perhaps pill boxes are empty with no refills in sight. Maybe even the refrigerator and cupboards are almost bare and you are wondering if they are cooking meals for themselves.
First thing’s first- don’t panic! It is very normal that as aging adults get older their ability to care for themselves and manage daily tasks can start to falter. It doesn’t mean anything is “wrong” with them, or even that they won’t be able to continue living independently. But, these are some of the signs that it may be time to consider elder in-home care for your loved one.
Here are a few other signs to watch for:
- Having difficulty managing finances (checks bouncing, bills not being paid)
- Seemingly forgetful
- Recent falls
- Lack of food and/or only “junk” food in the home
- Noticeable weight loss/gain
- Soiled clothing or laundry piling up
- House cleaning seems to be lacking
- Pets seem to be neglected
- Not participating in routine activities (perhaps friends and neighbors even express concern)
One of the biggest mistakes people make is waiting too long to initiate assistance for elder home care. By avoiding the issue or trying to provide all of the support to our loved ones on our own, we end up taking unnecessary risks and creating avoidable problems.
Start by opening a dialogue with your loved one about elder home care. By including them in the process, you will be much more likely to gain their trust and acceptance of assistance. Here are some tips on how to do so successfully:
- Pick a calm, quiet time when other distractions are not likely to interrupt the conversation.
- Be empathetic and gentle with your approach, do not use “accusatory” language.
- LISTEN- don’t dominate the conversation. Let them express their concerns, fears, and desires.
- Attempt to come up with a next step by the end of the conversation. For example: “Mom, based on what we discussed today, I am going to start researching quality elder home care agencies in your area. Would that be okay with you?”
Once you have laid this ground work, you can move forward confidently knowing that you and your loved one are on that same page and you can start considering the best options for them without wondering if they will be open to the idea. This will make the transition to home care much easier on your family.
About the Author: Pam Reynolds, CMC is the President and co-owner of Allegiance Aging Care Services. Pam has spent almost fifteen years working in senior care including long term care facilities and home health care. Her higher education is in Social Work, and she has been credentialed as both a certified Geriatric Care Manager and Licensed Assisted Living Administrator. Read more about Pam and her team of Aging Care Professionals here.