Home Care for Parents
When do my parents need home care?
How do I know?
What should I look for?
Where do I begin?
These are questions people ask me all the time. This topic is not black and white, but a wide array of shades of grey. There is no right or wrong answer unless your loved one’s safety is a concern.
Here are a few red flags that should make you take notice and investigate further:
Be on the lookout for changes in your loved one’s personal appearance: do they wear dirty clothes, do they have messy hair, or do they forget to bathe on a regular basis? Perhaps they have vision problems and just don’t see stains on their clothes. Possibly they have balance issues and are afraid to bathe alone or have memory issues and don’t remember if they bathed or not.
Condition of the Home
It’s important to check in on your loved one to observe their living conditions. You should notice if there are piles of dirty clothes, stacks of dirty dishes, spoiled food in the refrigerator, unopened bills, burnt out light bulbs, unresolved home repairs. Is there a general difficulty in keeping the house clean and sanitary? Is your loved one too tired or in too much pain to keep up with the house chores? Do they feel that they cannot handle their finances and pay their bills?
Does your loved one have unexplained bruises or pain? Many older adults do not want to admit that they fall on occasion (or often). They are afraid to let people know for fear you might remove them from their home. Falling is a serious safety concern that should be addressed immediately, but gently. Besides the obvious safety concerns of a broken bone, fear of falling may lead to isolation and depression.
Has your loved one missed appointments, forgotten to pay bills, or excessively repeats the same thoughts or conversations? Most people have some degree of forgetfulness of which they are aware – and is not a concern…the problem is when the person does not realize the forgetfulness.
Does your loved one no longer leave the house? Do they still do errands or go to church or other routine social activities? There can be many reasons older adults are uncomfortable to leave the house like a fear of falling, dealing with a walker, poor hearing or vision, afraid to come home to an empty house, or fearful to drive in the dark. Isolation becomes a serious problem when it leads to depression or other safety issues.
Driving can be a huge source of contention with older adults. Taking away the keys can feel like a blow to one’s independence. Look for dents and scrapes on the car as well as issues such as forgetting where they parked the car. If you feel it is unsafe for your loved one as well as other people on the streets, you need to discuss alternate transportation solutions.
Is your loved one losing weight? Is it due to poor nutrition? Has it become too difficult for them to stand to prepare healthy meals? Check the refrigerator and pantry for the types of food on hand and ask what they normally eat each day. Weight loss can lead to balance issues and poor nutrition may exacerbate chronic health issues.
Notice if your loved one seems lonely or sad or if they have lost a spouse or close friend recently. Do you and your family live out of town? Are you part of the sandwich generation raising your kids and caring for your parents at the same time? Are you perhaps working full-time too? There are not enough hours in the day to care for everyone, including yourself. It doesn’t mean you need full time care every day. Care can be a predetermined number of hours a day for however many days a week. The type of care and the schedule can change as your loved one’s needs change. In-home care is a cost-effective way to make sure your beloved family member or friend eats nutritious meals, takes medications as directed, lives in a clean environment, and have companionship…and give you and your family respite you need to be the best caregiver for your loved ones.
originally posted 4/18/2018
updated 4 /1/2023