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Heed the Warning Signs: How to Know When a Loved One Needs Home Care

Mom's caretaker

A common, oft-repeated refrain of the elderly is “I want to stay in my own home!” Often, this statement is not even left open for discussion. The good news is that with the right help, staying in their own homes is indeed a viable option.

Following are some signs and triggers to look for and be aware of – to determine if your loved one (spouse, parent, aunt, uncle, friend) would benefit from home care.

1. Lack of Personal Care. Signs that reveal that personal care is an obstacle could be: soiled clothing, body odor, bad oral hygiene, unwashed hair. Any of these are indications that your loved one may find it difficult to complete regular grooming needs or use the washing machine.

2. Eating Habits. Signs that may indicate regular eating habits have changed are: unusual weight loss, many pre-packaged meals, using the microwave more often than the stovetop or oven, or spoiled food in the refrigerator. The loved one may find it is too bothersome to prepare a meal because it takes an excessive amount of time standing, or they may forget how to cook or use the stove, or a variety of other reasons.

medication confusion

3. Medication Concerns. Medications are a big part of everyday life for seniors. When they are not taken according to directions, the result can seriously impact the senior’s health. If the senior is having problems remembering to take their medications, if the instructions are hard for them to understand, or they’re taking medications after the expiration date, are all major concerns.

4. Caretaker Burnout. Sometimes caring for a senior can be a challenging experience and the caregiver could use a break. Caring for someone 24 hours a day can wear a caregiver down mentally and physically. Having a break occasionally could be very helpful.

5. Long Distance Caregiving. Frequently the senior’s family does not live close enough to help with day-to-day caregiving. Trying to help by long distance can be a trying (and fruitless) experience for everyone concerned.

Confused? 6. Mail and Overdue Bills. When a senior has memory loss or Alzheimer’s, dealing with mail and bills on a daily basis can be a major source of confusion. Helping the senior get and keep these items under control is a way to help ward off financial worries.

7. Housekeeping. One of the first things that accompanies health or memory loss is cleaning of the senior’s home. When it is noticed that the house is not taken care of in the same manner, this could be a time to get some extra assistance.

8. Falls and Injuries. When a senior is frequently losing his or her step, there is a concern with falling and being injured. When seniors are unsteady on their feet, or must use a walker, they are likely having trouble with stairs and other problem walkway areas.

9. Lack of Outings. When seniors begin having problems with walking, driving, or other mobility issues, they tend to stay at home. This can lead to depression and further decline in their mental and physical health. Home care workers can help the senior find ways to get out of the house.

10. Fraud Victims. Seniors are frequently targeted for scams, which can be accomplished over the telephone or in person. Checking the mail they get, listening to voice messages over the telephone, and paying attention to unexplained long distance telephone charges can reveal when a senior has been scammed.

Any of the above signs are indications that your loved one is ready for the additional support of a home care provider. An assessment by a professional, such as a Geriatric Care Manager (GCM), is a way to determine how much assistance your loved one really needs in these categories:

1. Bathing, oral hygiene, incontinence care, and general grooming.

2. Grocery shopping, preparing meals, and eating assistance.

3. Medication organization and reminders.

4. Housekeeping – light dusting, vacuuming, and organizing drawers and closets.

5. Transportation to and from doctor’s appointments, social events, or shopping (to get the senior out and about – away from the house).

6. Companionship, to assist the senior from being depressed, and watching over seniors with memory loss. Call for help today!

A home care provider can mean peace of mind for family members, who will sleep easier knowing that their loved one is being cared for when they cannot be there. Whether in the senior’s home, in the family’s home, in a retirement community, or an assisted living community, or in living, Care-Connect is ready to provide personalized, compassionate home care for seniors in Travis and Williamson Counties! Learn more at or call 512-706-7577.

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