Adults age at different rates. However, no matter how healthy or independent a senior seems to be, the aging process affects everyone eventually. As both mental and physical changes occur, you may find that your loved one needs more and more assistance with everyday tasks. The demands of caring for a loved one with limitations can be challenging, especially if you have your own separate responsibilities. While the decision to seek outside help is not always easy, it is often the best choice for families. Learn how to recognize the signs that in-home care services may be a suitable option.
Changes in Mental or Physical Status
Sometimes a change in a person’s mental or physical status occurs suddenly, such as in the event of an injury or accident that causes bodily harm. Other times, mental or physical function can decline gradually, such as with the natural aging process. Whether it is one or the other, or both, in-home care can help the senior remain happy and healthy within their own home. Look for red flags that could indicate a decline or mental or physical function, such as:
- Poor diet or weight loss
- Difficulty with mobility
- Loss of interest in activities or hobbies
- Unusual sleep habits
- Changes in mood or abnormal mood swings
- Uncertainty, confusion, or forgetfulness
- Missing important appointments
- Bruises on the body or damage in the home caused by falls
Declining Personal Hygiene Habits
Just by looking at a person you can get a lot of information regarding their personal hygiene. If your loved one has always maintained a clean shave and now has an unkempt beard, he may be forgetting to shave or may have forgotten how to. If your mom usually wears clean, crisp blouses but is now wearing clothes that appear wrinkled or stained, she may not have the strength to dress properly or may no longer care about her appearance which could signal depression. Also look for other clues that could indicate the development of poor personal hygiene, such as:
- Infrequent bathing or showering
- Unpleasant body odor
- Unkempt hair or nails
- Lack of oral care
- Strong smell of urine on clothes or in the home
- Failing to change clothing daily
Neglecting Household Chores
Many seniors prefer to remain in their own homes as they age. However, not all are able to keep up with household chores, often resulting in hazardous or unhygienic conditions. Sometimes seniors are unable to complete common household tasks due to mobility issues or a lack of strength or balance. If a loved one suffers from dementia or experiences consistent bouts of confusion or forgetfulness, he or she may unintentionally overlook cleaning. Other signs that may indicate that household responsibilities are being neglected include:
- Spoiled or stale food in the cupboards
- Extreme clutter
- Dirty laundry piling up
- New stains on furniture
- Unopened mail
- Late payment notices
- Thick layer of dust or dirt
- Utilities being turned off due to non-payment
Worsening Injuries or Medical Conditions
Has your loved one recently experienced an injury, such as a torn ligament, broken bone, or head trauma? If so, you may notice that he or she is experiencing a slower recovery than predicted. Slow healing can be caused by a lack of nutrients, poor self-care, and similar issues that require the assistance of a professional. Chronic health problems may also worsen without the proper care. An in-home care agency can help ensure that your loved one is attending all doctor visits, is eating healthy, and is staying active to help speed up recovery.
Noticeable Decrease in Social Interactions
If a loved one was always a social person, a drastic slowdown in social interactions will likely be noticeable. Aging seniors may stop spending time with close friends, attending favorite activities or group events, or may stop participating in their hobbies. In some cases, a person may stop leaving their home altogether. A noticeable decline in social interactions may be associated with depression, poor mobility, or worsening medical conditions that make it difficult to comfortably leave the home. An in-home care professional can provide the social interaction seniors need while also encouraging them to stay active in their communities.
Lack of Safe Transportation
While there is no cutoff as to when a senior has to stop driving, many older adults find it unsafe to drive after a certain point. However, statistics show that one in six American drivers is age 65 or older. Being behind the wheel of a car can create a number of safety hazards for both seniors and others on the road. Look for signs that it is no longer safe for your loved one to drive, such as dents in the car from careless driving, improper use of seatbelts, being easily distracted on the road, or dangerous driving techniques such as tailgating or drifting from the lane. Know that an in-home care professional can provide your loved one with safe and reliable transportation.
Learn More About In-Home Care
As your loved one ages, it can be difficult to identify their changing needs. Even if a senior is finding it hard to complete activities of daily living (ADLs), he or she may not feel comfortable telling you about their struggles. At first, the signs that indicate the need for in-home care may be subtle, such as dirty laundry piling up in the bathroom or old food being left on the countertops or in the fridge. Over time, the signs of mental or physical decline will usually become more evident.
When talking to your loved one about the need for in-home care, it is important to be sensitive about the issue. It is normal for seniors to be resistant to such changes, especially if they are used to being independent. However, approaching the topic as a family can increase the chance of success and cooperation from all involved. For more information about in-home care or to schedule a consultation with an in-home health aide, contact an in-home care agency today.