How to Tell if It’s Time for Caregiving Services
Determining the care needs of a loved one is a very personal and important role. It often involves the compassionate attention of supporting family, the aging parent, as well as professionals providing care. It can be difficult to see changes in a loved one, especially if they have been independent most of their lives. Often understanding what to look for and what questions to ask is the first step to recognizing and addressing needs as they appear.
Each individual has a complex web of needs that are interconnected to each other. It can be helpful to divide those needs into manageable pieces when assessing and finding solutions to those needs. Here are some basic categories to look at when determining the care needs of a loved one:
Nutrition, Hygiene, & Home
As these needs are so personal, they can be the most difficult to pick up on. When you are visiting for the holidays and staying in the home with parents, it is a great time to purposefully take note of changes. In the kitchen, look for expired items stored in cupboards and in the fridge. Make sure there is appropriate nutritious food in the home and not just snacks and drinks. Particularly if your parent lives alone or has experienced a death in the family, watch for changes in behaviors. Lack of personal hygiene can be a red flag for a number of other issues, including dementia, depression, untreated injuries, etc. When you are visiting, as an adult child it is also important to look at the home environment itself. Look for changes in normal patterns of behavior. If your loved one has always been a collector or naturally messy, the presence of clutter may not be a red flag in-and-of itself. However, if your loved one always took meticulous care of the yard and suddenly it is overgrown and full of weeds, this can be an important indicator of a change in needs.
Mobility & Medical Needs
Noticing changes in mobility has the greatest impact on safety in the home. Addressing them as soon as they arise can dramatically reduce the risk of falls and injury. The sooner you notice changes in vision, regular exercise patterns, how they carry items and driving habits the sooner you can reduce risks. How a parent is managing chronic illnesses or medications is also important to watch for. Often fear of losing independence can keep individuals from seeking appropriate medical care and assistance when it is needed. Making small adjustments now can help reduce the risk of bigger problems later.
Social, Emotional, & Financial Needs
When monitoring social needs it is also important to track trends in behavior. If you’re loved one is quiet and happiest on their own, reclusive behavior may be a sign of self-care rather than depression. However, if your loved one has always been a social butterfly, getting energy from being around others and suddenly they are withdrawing from friendships, this is a good indicator that something has changed. Pay attention to changes in spending as well. Though it is a very sensitive subject to discuss, it is important for loved ones to create a budget for long-term care needs and address the financial costs associated with aging in place.
The flip side of determining the care needs of a loved one, is determining how those care needs are going to be met. If you are a family caregiver currently supporting an aging parent, it is important that you honestly assess your own needs and ability to help as well. It is crucial that you not neglect your own needs and well-being, but look for win-win solutions that protect the quality of life of both the senior and self.
If you are currently unable to continue the responsibilities you have and are looking for ways to find reprieve or transition care to professionals, Sound Options is here to help. Our comprehensive Home Care and Care Management services are completely scalable and can save families time, money, and unnecessary stress in navigating the healthcare system. A wonderful starting point is to do a 1 hour consultation that we call “eldercare coaching”. You can meet with a Professional Geriatric Care Manager who can guide you through next steps, help create a plan to engage appropriate services, and answer important elder care questions. Give us a call to consult at 800.628.7649 and find details online at www.SoundOptions.com/services.
Published on June 27, 2013.