Our perpetually mobile society has rapidly changed how families live from previous generations. While we once stayed within close proximity to our relatives, we now frequently move and see family members occasionally. This can make it challenging to watch over loved ones who are aging and want to remain at home. Often times, it takes extended periods of time to identify when an individual is struggling at home. However, there are several indicators that they may require more home support. In the following blog, we will discuss five signs home care is needed and the next steps to getting your loved ones the assistance they require.
According to the WHO, the number of people 60 years and older will increase from 900 million to 2 billion between 2015 and 2050, constituting 22% of the world’s population. The biggest health issues of our aging population are not communicable diseases, but heart disease, stroke, and chronic lung disease. These are illnesses that an individual can live with for years, managing symptoms and disease processes through the assistance of medical staff and personal support. Other causes of disability are chronic pain, depressive disorders, dementia, and arthritis. While these disorders may make it difficult to live alone, they are much easier to cope with through home assistance.
As individuals age and their health changes, so does how they function in their home. Flights of stairs up to bedrooms or down to basements may be insurmountable. Driving a car to the local supermarket may be an anxiety-ridden experience. Sorting mail to pay bills may be too confusing, overlooking critical payments such as utilities and mortgages. Here are five signs home care is needed when looking to better support your loved one’s life at home:
Five Signs Home Care is Needed:
- An empty fridge or a fridge full of spoiled food: Meal preparation requires many steps from beginning to finished product. Challenging actions include driving to the store and purchasing groceries, unloading bags, making meals, and cleaning up afterward. An empty fridge or the presence of spoiled food can indicate it is too difficult to drive to replenish supplies. This can be due to low energy, anxiety about driving, or simply not remembering to eat. Sometimes weight loss will accompany depression as the individual loses interest in eating, even when it comes to favorite foods.
- Mail piling up on the counter and lapses in paying bills: Dementia often results in being unable to track time. This makes it difficult to know when to pay bills, even if looking at a marked calendar. The differences between junk mail, potential scams, and actual bills can be unclear, making the simple act of sorting through mail a confusing and overwhelming experience.
- Wearing the same clothes repeatedly and an unkempt appearance: Doing laundry can be particularly daunting due to its physical nature. People who fatigue easily or have chronic pain (especially back pain) are less likely to engage in self-care. This may appear through wearing the same clothes for multiple days, lack of showering, and other personal hygiene issues.
- “Unknown” new damages to their car: Slower reflexes, confusion, poor vision, and many other factors can negatively impact the ability to drive, which will often result in minor “fender benders”. New bumps and scratches on the car, which the individual cannot account for (they may not even realize they have hit other cars or objects), is a big indicator that driving has become too difficult.
- Isolation and withdrawal from favorite activities: Missing usual engagements can be due to a variety of reasons. These can include not having access to transportation, not understanding scheduled times, or losing interest due to depression. Hopelessness, listlessness, and discontent are all feelings that need attention immediately.
The Next Steps
While these events can be alarming, it is important to address them immediately, as issues do not typically develop overnight. Something as simple as a home care visit, for a couple of hours a day, two days per week, can prevent these issues from turning into major problems. A home care agency can have an aide visit to help with grocery shopping, meal preparation, and assist with grooming. They can drive the individual to their weekly bowling game and alleviate the anxiety of finding transportation, driving a car, and figuring out exactly what time they are meeting with their friends. Aides can also assist with light housekeeping, tackle those piles of laundry, recycle junk fliers, and set aside important mail.
Many individuals can be unsure about having a new person in their home. Helpful assistance and knowledge that someone is there to both support and ensure their safety can ease fears of new help. Being aware of the five signs home care is needed, family members can identify issues and quickly take steps to provide the assistance their loved one needs.
Have More Questions? Need More Information?
For more information on types of home care that Nurses With Heart provides, check our Services page and for more resources for families caring for aging individuals, check out the resources at the National Council on Aging.