How to Know When Your Loved One Needs Assistance
Today we have a guest article from June Duncan, who is a friend of Holistically Devoted Assisted Living (HDAL) and the caregivers community. Enjoy.
There comes a day in nearly every adult’s life when they must decide the best way to care for an aging loved one. As people live longer, more and more seniors rely on live-in help to manage life in old age. However, it’s not uncommon for seniors to view caregiving as a loss of independence and to resist that help. The onus then falls on friends and family to recognize when a senior isn’t getting along as well as they could and to intervene to provide necessary support.
Unfortunately, knowing when a loved one needs extra care is easier said than done. This is especially true when family lives far away and can’t keep a close eye on their aging loved one. However, you don’t need to be present every day to recognize when a senior is starting to struggle. Here are the signals to look out for:
Recent injury or illness: A serious illness or injury is more likely to have long-term repercussions, such as permanent disability, for seniors than younger adults.
Forgetfulness: Missing appointments, running out of medications and frequently misplacing items is a sign your loved one’s cognitive health may be in decline.
Difficulty getting around: Falls are the number one cause of fatal and non-fatal injuries in older Americans, according to the CDC. For seniors starting to have trouble getting around, live-in help can be the difference that keeps home-life safe.
An unkempt home: Growing piles of clutter, unopened mail, dirty clothes, and an unmowed lawn are all signs that an older adult is struggling to keep up at home.
While these are hardly the only signs that a senior needs help, they’re common indicators that family and friends can readily spot. However, just because a senior can no longer manage alone doesn’t mean they need to go to a nursing home or assisted living facility. For many older adults, caregiving can provide the support they need to continue aging in place.
Even within caregiving, it’s not a one-size-fits-all approach. While some seniors need help managing medical needs, others only require assistance with housework, bills, and other day-to-day responsibilities. If you’re considering a caregiver for a loved one, here are the options to weigh:
Family caregiving: The majority of seniors rely on unpaid family members to provide caregiving duties. These informal carers provide a wide range of services, from grocery shopping to basic medical support. While family caregiving is often the most affordable option for live-in help, it can be both emotionally and financially taxing on the person providing care.
Companion care: Home companions are ideal for seniors who need household help but don’t require medical care. While home companions can’t provide personal assistance, such as with bathing and dressing, they can prepare meals, do housekeeping, and transport the client for errands and appointments.
Certified aides: If a senior needs help with personal care in addition to housekeeping duties, a certified aide may be the answer. A certified aide can help with personal needs like dressing, walking, and using the bathroom, in addition to helping around the house. Certified aides may also be known as home health aides or certified nursing assistants (CNAs).
Nurses: For elderly people with complicated medical needs, nurses are the best choice for home care. In addition to the basic duties provided by companions and certified aides, nurses can manage and administer medication, change catheters, and communicate with the patient’s doctor regarding changes to health status.
Assisted Living: Some seniors would benefit much more from 24-hour care, making assisted living a good option. Facilities provide assistance with daily living as well as opportunities for socialization, fitness, and learning, all of which occur in an environment optimized for safety, mobility, and accessibility.
For seniors, caregiving can make the difference between aging in place and moving to a care facility. Since 87 percent of adults 65 and older want to stay in their home, according to AARP, it’s important that families understand the caregiving options available to them. While some families might rely on just one form of caregiving, most land on a hybrid solution that works best for their loved one’s needs, their budget, and their own capacity to provide care.
Image via Unsplash.
While it's implied that the need for personal assistance coincides with the loss of a certain degree of independence, it is important to understand when our aging family members and friends need this help. It's also important to be well-educated on the caregiving options available to us. A word of thanks is due to June Duncan for sharing this useful information with us. June is the primary caregiver to her 85-year-old mother and the co-creator of Rise Up for Caregivers, which offers support for family members and friends who have taken on the responsibility of caring for their loved ones. She is passionate about helping and supporting other caregivers and is currently writing a book titled, The Complete Guide to Caregiving, due out in Winter 2018. Check out more of June's work at riseupforcaregivers.org.
The Owners of Holistically Devoted Assisted Living Facility
Holistically Devoted Assisted Living Facility (HDAL) is the premier assisted living facility in Prince George's County, Maryland. At HDAL, we deliver holistic health care to our residents - by meeting all their personal needs while allowing them the dignity of being freethinking and independent adults; and we provide devoted service - by being ever-present as servants in the lives of our residents as we assist them with performing their activities of daily living.