There’s no defined timeline for the use of home care services, and in this article, we will share information that will help you identify when it’s time to get home care for your loved one.
Seven out of 10 people over 65 will need assistance with completing their activities of daily living (ADLs). That means we all need to plan for care needs regardless of our current age.
Home care has historically not been a part of the health care ecosystem for various reasons. It’s often confused with home health care, and you can learn more about the difference between the two here. The first franchised home care company in the US opened in 1982, hinging off a concept that originated in Europe with help from Florence Nightingale.
When you’re considering getting home care services for a loved one, there are certain signs you can look for to indicate it’s time to hire a provider. We’ll look at indicators about your loved one’s physical condition, cognitive abilities and memory, and social interactions that can help confirm that they need home care services.
We’ll also look at signs for family members to watch out for within themselves that might mean the caregiver needs additional support from home care services.
1. Your loved one’s physical condition is worsening
Let’s first acknowledge that no two people age in place the same way and that physical decline is not inevitable with age. Cheryl Wilson, an Elder Care Coordinator at The Weeks Group, shared that it’s important to identify physical decline before the need for care becomes imminent. She offered questions to ask about their physical abilities. For example, she said that if they’re having trouble maintaining hygiene, you might see them wearing the same or dirty clothes or notice their hair isn’t combed.
Melody Lynch, Founder and CEO of Northshore Home Care, said that it’s also important to look out for some other signs in their physical condition and well-being, such as
- Unexplained bruises
- Weight loss
- Changes in mood and behavior
- Little-to-no physical activity
- Expression of sadness or loneliness
2. You notice changes in their cognition and memory
The Alzheimer’s Foundation reports that 18% of individuals ages 60 and over have some form of cognitive impairment. It may be difficult to recognize mild cognitive decline in another person, but Wilson sheds some light on what to look for. A person might say that they have no memory problems, and this could be because they don’t necessarily notice it. Wilson says to look for signs like these in a loved one that could indicate cognitive impairment that necessitates home care:
- They display confusion, even if they think they have no memory problems.
- They have notes all over their home to remind them to do things.
- The miss appointments.
- They stopped going to events they used to enjoy (social groups, church, getting their hair done regularly).
- They repeat questions or stories.
- They forget to pay their bills on time.
These are all key parts of cognition and memory that may decline as someone ages. This happens because brain volume decreases with age, and sometimes the hippocampus and frontal lobe also decline. The hippocampus is largely responsible for learning and memory, while the frontal lobe focuses on movement, language expression, and executive functioning.
3. They express feelings of isolation and loneliness
Older adults may spend more time alone as they age, which can result in loneliness. Depression is a common mental health issue among older adults, which may result from their environment. If your loved one shows signs of isolation, depression, or withdrawal, it may be time to consider senior home care options.
Loneliness can take many different forms, but it can look like this:
- Not spending time with family and friends.
- Sleeping for longer periods of time and increased fatigue.
- Weight gain.
Next, we’ll talk about what you as a family member may see in yourself and other family members if home care support should be brought in.
Signs that caregivers need home care support for a loved one
If you are a family caregiver or a concerned friend or neighbor looking after someone, it’s important to consider the possibility of experiencing caregiver burnout. This describes the emotional, mental, and physical exhaustion of caring for a loved one. Even if helping your loved one is rewarding, it can become too much for a person to handle alone. You may need additional support if you display some signs:
- Drained energy.
- Sleep issues (sleeping too much or too little).
- Withdrawing from or losing interest in previously loved activities.
- Feeling guilty about focusing on your interests, desires, and needs.
Family members of older adults may have the best intentions when caring for their aging loved ones. But, sometimes, the effort and output can become too much for someone who also has to manage their own life. Lori Lemasters, caregiver, author, and therapeutic writing instructor, shared that “I was slipping into depression and needed to practice better self-care and make better use of respite care was acting out in ways that were ‘not me.’”
Dr. Joy Poskozim, DDS FSCD CDP, shared that family members may “want to help provide care but not have the emotional, physical, or mental energy or strength to do so anymore. They may also hold feelings of resentment, particularly if the caregiver feels ‘alone and on my own’ in their care journey.”
If you find yourself in a caregiving role for someone you care about, try to build respite or a break with a home care agency into your routine. Here’s a resource that can help you learn about home care payment options.
Whether you’re a senior looking for assistance for yourself, or a concerned family member, home care is a great option to consider. Look out for subtle signs in and around the home and within your loved one’s day-to-day activities.