Home. The place where so many memories are created. A place so familiar to you, navigating for a glass of water in the dark is second nature. Our home is a place of comfort, and it should come as no surprise that people want to remain in their homes for as long as possible.
Age-related health conditions can challenge our ability to remain in our homes. SHC receives calls daily from family members who are looking for a solution to ensure their loved one’s safety and health, while honoring their wishes to live at home. Our caregivers can help to meet this need, and extend their time at home.
Recently, we helped Danni and Karli care for their mother. The sisters’ perspectives differed initially how they could best meet their mom’s needs. Both sisters felt the obligation to help their mother remain at home, and honor their promise to their father that mom wouldn’t be alone. It wasn’t until Danni started noticing her mom’s physical and mental decline required increasing support, she approached her sister, Karli, to talk about getting help from a caregiver.
Many people understand the value that caregivers offer, but are unsure when the time is right to discuss additional care. Following are warning signs to help you determine if a helping hand is needed to keep your family member safe and healthy in their home:
You might be surprised to learn that someone’s mail can provide a significant clue to whether or not care might be needed. Are you finding large stacks of unopened mail scattered throughout the house? If billing statements or letters from banks have not been opened, it could be a sign that important financial issues are no longer being managed appropriately. This could be due to a sense of being overwhelmed by day-to-day tasks, or changes in cognition and attention span.
Nutrition is key to healthy minds and bodies, so having healthy foods in the house is important. Take a look in the cupboard and refrigerator: are they well-stocked? Are there several food items with visible signs of spoilage? If nutritious foods are not readily available, this could be a sign that cleaning or grocery shopping has become too difficult. This could also indicate a growing disinterest in food or a decreased appetite – both troubling signs.
A once-tidy home that is now filled with clutter, accumulating papers and boxes, and dust may represent that organization and everyday housekeeping duties have become too much for a loved one to handle. Changes in physical abilities – including balance and stamina – can impact our ability to keep up with chores.
Sometimes, all we might need is the eye-test to determine if someone’s overall well-being is declining. Do you find yourself getting nervous each time a loved one tries to get up to move? The act of standing might be the challenge, or you might notice that balance seems unsteady. This could point to an overall drop in physical abilities, or a symptom of an injury that was suffered without the proper treatment.
Issues with hygiene can be more obvious to notice, and more telling of an issue. An unkept appearance, or signs of infrequent bathing, can point out an inability to keep up with grooming routines due to physical or mental declines. Noticeable gains in weight could suggest an inability to prepare healthy meals, diabetes, or even over indulgence related to dementia.
You might not need an excuse to hug someone you love, but a simple hug could also help paint a clear picture. Does your loved one feel much thinner than you remember, or is the hug much weaker than before? If a loved one is struggling to cook healthy meals, or has seemingly lost interest in food, it could easily show from the strength behind a simple hug.
Getting close for a hug can also present your nose with a chance to assess. If you notice a musty smell on clothes, it could indicate that laundry has become a challenge. Clothes might sit in the washing machine for far too long, before the strength is gathered to move them to the dryer. A strong smell of urine might point to more serious issues with toileting, or overall hygiene.
Making a mental note to assess these areas on a regular basis can help your loved one enjoy the comforts of home longer into life. Mom or Dad might pass with flying colors now, but a conversation amongst the family about the benefits of caregiving support could still be worthwhile. Having a plan to provide support today could prove essential for maintaining a loved one’s independence and reducing stress on the family tomorrow.
If the warning signs above are familiar, it is important to start the dialogue about support and care immediately. Talk with our team of experts to learn how we help clients stay active and engaged at home.