Home Care for an Independent Senior: Some Signs Your Loved One Might Be Ready

elderly woman standing with walker
The need for senior home care can creep up slowly.
Image source: Flickr user Ben Garne

Thousands of seniors need home care every day in the United States, and if that time ever comes for our loved ones, we would do well to follow the example of my grandmother. When she saw an elderly friend of hers grow less independent and hire a home health aide, she made it clear to my family that’s what she wanted if she were ever in the same situation. And indeed, years later, she was.

Now, no one could deny that my grandmother was a fierce, feisty, and very independent lady. But like my family, if you see that your elderly loved one is having more trouble functioning than they used to, it’s important to take appropriate measures to ensure their safety and comfort. The need for home care may not be something you notice right away, but a combination of little things that become more apparent over time.

Seniors need home care for decreased mobility

Decreased mobility affects nearly everyone as they age. When reflexes, vision, and motor skills are waning, it makes it harder to accomplish everyday tasks around the house. It especially makes activities like driving difficult. In fact, decreased mobility can make your elderly loved one fearful of driving. This may mean they put off important trips, like those to the doctor, grocery store, or pharmacy. It may also mean they avoid driving at night, or dusk, due to impaired vision at that time (this happened with my other grandmother). Professional home care services can fill in the gaps when your loved one isn’t able to get around as much as they would like.

Seniors need home care if they’re very forgetful

Many people fear that any kind of memory problem indicates the onset of Alzheimer’s, but this simply isn’t true. Alzheimer’s is a complex brain condition that involves dementia, and affects memory, cognition, mood, and more. However, there is still the distinct possibility that a senior needs home care even if relatively mild forgetfulness has set in.

You don’t have to have Alzheimer’s in order to leave the stove on, the doors unlocked, fail to refill medications, or overlook picking them up at the pharmacy. These are all potentially deadly situations that can arise out of mere forgetfulness. And they are all situations a professional home care worker can help your loved one avoid. After all, it never hurts to have another set of eyes to double-check the important things.

Seniors need home care after traumatic events

If someone has a stroke or heart attack, no matter how independent they were prior to the event, they are sure to need home care afterwards – either temporarily or permanently. Sometimes the senior regains their prior level of functioning, and sometimes not. However, almost every doctor would recommend home care following discharge from a hospital or sub-acute rehabilitation center.

Sometimes it’s hard to admit your senior needs home care – even to yourself. But by watching for the signs and taking appropriate action, you can help them live a healthier, more independent life for as long as possible.

If you are unsure of how to best help an aging loved one, the trained and compassionate staff at the Institute on Aging is here to help you make that decision and gain the best in at-home senior care. Contact us to find out more.

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