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Is It Time for Home Care? 10 Questions to Ask Yourself

Claire Samuels
By Claire SamuelsSeptember 12, 2020
Home care nurse serving a bowl of cereal and coffee to an elderly man.

Admitting your parent needs help as they age is difficult — especially if they don’t want to move into senior living. Home care aides can help seniors age comfortably in their own home without sacrificing independence. Home care can be personalized to your loved one’s needs, from one afternoon a week to help with cleaning and cooking to full-time, 24-hour care.

Answer these 10 questions to see if home care may be the right fit for your aging loved one.

1. Are everyday tasks becoming more difficult?

Arthritis may make chopping vegetables or folding clothes difficult. Or poor eyesight could make it hard to notice grime or clutter. Your parent may no longer want to work in the yard due to mobility issues or depression.

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No matter the reason, difficulty keeping up with household chores is a common sign it may be time for in-home care.

2. Are you worried about falls or accidents?

Illness, medication, and loss of muscle can all reduce steadiness and coordination as we age. Some basic household tasks — like changing a lightbulb or cleaning a slippery tub — may become dangerous.

Falls are the top cause of fatal and non-fatal accidents in seniors. Hiring a home care aide may prevent injury or a long and costly hospital stay.

3. Do they want to age in place with a loved one who needs help?

Home care is one option for couples who wish to age together but need different levels of care. If one spouse is still independent, but unable to care for their partner, a home care aide can make aging in place possible for both.

4. Is forgetfulness becoming a problem?

It’s normal to forget some things as you age, like the name of an old acquaintance or where you put your cell phone. But when memory loss gets worse over time, forgetfulness may lead to unpaid bills, missed medication or appointments, and serious health or financial consequences. If you’ve noticed your loved one is experiencing signs of cognitive decline, or if they’ve been diagnosed with early-stage dementia — but aren’t ready to move into assisted living or a memory care community — it may be time to look into home care.

Ask about dementia care experience when interviewing home care aides. Be sure to also ask whether agencies offer aides regular training on cognitive decline, as well as skills like help with activities of daily living (ADLs)

5. Has their mobility declined?

Difficulty moving and walking can make household tasks difficult or even dangerous, especially in homes with high thresholds and stairs. Home care aides can help your relative get where they need to go. They can also help by assisting as your loved one learns to use a wheelchair, walker, or stairlift.

6. Has their appearance changed? Are they maintaining good hygiene?

It can be difficult to admit your family member needs help with something they’ve been doing all their life, like dressing or bathing. But it’s better to get help than to allow them to fall into habits that may affect their health long-term. If you notice appearance-related warning signs, such as unruly facial hair, infrequent bathing, or unkempt clothing, see these as signs that it may be time for home care.

7. Are they feeling lonely?

Loneliness is as deadly as smoking or obesity, according to a Brigham Young University study. Researchers at the University of Chicago note blood pressure and stress levels are significantly higher in lonely people, especially seniors. Loneliness can also lead to bad habits, like drinking in excess or poor nutrition.

Many factors can lead to senior loneliness and isolation, from geographically distanced family or loss of friends to simply being unable to drive or find transportation to social events. Home care aides can provide both companionship and transportation for aging adults who feel alone.

8. Do they find it hard to stay engaged?

The same routine day after day can become boring, and low levels of stimulation can increase rates of cognitive decline and depression. Having someone else around the house is re-invigorating. New conversations, foods, and games can help your parent break out of a tired routine. Home care aides can also help with transportation to senior centers, favorite activities, and meetings with friends.

9. Are they struggling to partake in favorite activities and interests?

Many seniors prefer to age at home, but physical decline can make the activities they love difficult or impossible. The right level of care can help your family member maintain interests, passions, and a sense of self.

For instance, if your parent loves cooking, a home care aide gives them help chopping vegetables so they don’t have to switch to frozen meals. If they’ve always dressed up and done their hair and makeup, having someone there to help them get ready will keep them feeling put together and ready for the day. If gardening and spending time outside makes them happy, having someone to weed and help can let them enjoy planting and watering.

10. Do you or another family caregiver need a break?

Since home care doesn’t have to be full time, family caregivers may invest in a few hours a week for personal respite. A home care aide can watch over your elderly loved one while you enjoy much-deserved time to recharge, run errands, meet up with friends, or just relax.

Caregiver burnout can take a serious toll on a caregiver’s health and mental well-being. Home care can help prevent burnout so you can care for your aging relative with less stress in the long run.

Is home care right for your loved one?

If you’ve answered yes to these questions and think it may be time for home care, reach out to A Place for Mom’s free Senior Living Advisors to learn more about in-home care options.

Claire Samuels
Author
Claire Samuels

Claire Samuels is a content writer at A Place for Mom. She worked with senior living communities throughout the Midwest before pivoting to writing. She’s passionate about sharing ways of living well at any age.

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