Asking for help in home care

Knowing When it’s Time to Ask for Help in Home Care

Whether a person is elderly or disabled, it can be difficult to know when to ask for help. Societally, we are taught that asking for help is a sign of weakness and a cause for embarrassment. Unfortunately, nothing could be further than the truth. If one of your friends or loved one is facing difficulty due to age or disability, certain telltale signs can help indicate when it is time to hire in-home help.

General Signs that It’s Time to Ask for Help

When an elderly or disabled friend or loved one needs help, the signs may manifest in a variety of ways. Some signs are clearly big-picture issues that will be obvious to friends and family, regardless of distance or relationship. Keep an eye out for the following:

Close Calls or New Difficulties

If your elderly or disabled loved one has been living alone, it’s likely that they have been relatively self-sufficient for some time. However, if your loved one has recently begun having new difficulties or suffering from close calls, like falls, medical scares or even car accidents, it’s likely that it is time to ask for help.

When an elderly or disabled person lives alone, these close calls are more likely to happen again and again and, when they do, it is wise to employ a trusted caretaker in order to ensure that somebody is there to respond to falls or other accidents.

Chronic Health Conditions or Worsening Health

Progressive issues like dementia, congestive heart failure and COPD can result in marked, rapid decline a loved one. Generally, the presence of these issues means that it is time to ask for help from a qualified caregiver or to move the person to an assisted living facility.

Difficulty Recovering

In elderly or disabled people, common illnesses like colds or the flu can produce serious health issues. If an elderly or disabled loved on has recently suffered from a common illness but is having a difficult time recovering, consider asking for help. This is especially true if your loved one was unable  or unwilling to get the help he or she needed during the time of the illness, which resulted in the illness becoming much more serious.

Difficulty With Activities of Daily Living

The activities of daily living (ADL’s) and instrumental activities of daily living (IADL’s) are the skills an adult needs to live independently – without the care of a relative or caregiver. These skills include dressing oneself, cooking, driving, shopping, using the bathroom, bathing, doing laundry, taking medications and cleaning.

Unfortunately, age or disability often rob people of these abilities and make it increasingly difficult for them to live alone. Fortunately, if a loved one is having difficulty with ADL’s or IADL’S, bringing in-home help into the equation can often restore some independence and help the person live a better life.

Social Signs That It’s Time to Ask for Help

Often, when an elderly or disabled person is beginning to decline, it will become obvious through their social interactions, or lack thereof.  In order to determine if your friend or loved one needs help, keep an eye out for these important social waning signs:

Lack of Friendships

Age and disability make it easy to become reclusive and a person who no longer keeps close companions or pursues friendships may very well be declining. Generally, lack of active friendships is a sign of depressive symptoms and may indicate that it is time to secure in-home help or a change of scenery for your friend or loved one.

Refusal to Leave the Home

When an elderly or disabled person is afraid to drive and unwilling to take public transportation alone, they often begin to go days on end without leaving their home. Often, these individuals benefit from hiring in-home help, which may help them regain their mobility and resume regular outings.

No Activities or Interests

If your friend or loved one has abandoned activities and interests, it is time to call for help. Isolation is generally related to depressive symptoms and acting quickly is the best way to prevent your loved one from becoming further depressed and isolated.

Physical Signs That it’s Time to ask for Help

An elderly or disabled person who is declining will exhibit noticeable physical signs that indicate in-home help is needed. Any of the following signs warrant a call for assistance:

Weight Loss

If your friend or loved one feels thinner or looks like he or she is swimming in their clothing, there’s a good chance that something is wrong. Physical conditions ranging from tumors to depression can cause weight loss, as can declining motor skills that may result in a loss of cooking or shopping ability.

Additionally, some elderly or disabled people may be forgetting how to cook or eat. In these cases, it is wise to ensure there is food in the house and spend some time watching the person prepare a meal for him or herself. In any event, drastic weight loss is a valid reason to call an in-home caregiver.

Weight Gain

Like weight loss, sudden and drastic weight gain can indicate serious health issues like diabetes. Additionally, weight gain may indicate that a person is having financial troubles and subsisting on cheap, processed foods rather than healthy fare. Watch meal prep and call for help if you notice that the person is forgetting having eaten or binge eating all day long.

Frailty

If you notice that your friend or loved one is having difficulty completing simple tasks like removing shoes, opening drawers, sweeping or getting out of a chair, it is time to call for help. As people age, they generally become frailer, which may lead to difficulty completing everyday activities.

Disheveled Appearance

It is generally possible to tell a great deal from a person’s appearance. If you notice that your typically well-kept loved one is wearing stained, sloppy or torn clothing or that hair and makeup are noticeably different or disarranged, consider asking for help. These signs typically indicate that the person has lost strength, dexterity or memory and are a valid reason to call for in-home help. Elderly or disabled people often need help dressing, shaving and fixing their hair and an in-home caregiver can help them meet those needs.

The Case for In-Home Help

Realizing that a friend or loved one needs help is never an easy experience. Watching a person decline is difficult and it is made worse by the fact that they often need help we are simply incapable of giving. In these cases, the most important thing you can do is notice signs that indicate physical or mental deficiencies and take it upon yourself to secure help for your friend or loved one.

Often, elderly or disabled people are embarrassed to ask for help and see it as a sign that they are becoming infantile or incapable. Assure the person that this is not true, that there is nothing to be embarrassed about and that extra help can help them preserve the quality of their life rather than subtracting from it. Although it can be difficult, asking for help is never anything to be embarrassed about and in-home caregiving can often preserve, extend and boost a person’s quality of life for many years.

6 Comments

  1. Marie Watson

    I liked the tips about chronic conditions and worsening health. Recently my husband’s grandmother’s health has started to decline. We have considered having her live with us but we would still need to look in to adult day care programs for her, as my husband and I both work.

  2. My parents are pretty old and I am worried about them. My siblings and I don’t know if it is the right time to hire in home care for them. So, I am happy that you wrote a list of signs that it is time to hire someone. The tips liked the most was on if they have chronic pain. A few years ago, my father really hurt his back and it gives him a lot of pain. After reading that it seems like it is probably time that we get them some help.

  3. My grandmother has had a couple of different falls recently, and our family is nervous about her being on her own now. I think it’s safe to say that she’s definitely had close calls and new difficulties. This post was actually very helpful, and I think that home care honestly is the best option at this point. Thanks for sharing.

  4. This is some great information, and I appreciate your point that close calls like falls are a sign your loved one needs in home care. My mother has been living alone for several years now without needing a lot of help, but she has fallen a couple of times recently. I’m worried about her continuing to live alone, so I’ll definitely talk to her about getting an in home caregiver. Thanks for the great post!

  5. It would be a good idea for an elderly person to take use of in-home care. That way, they can have someone there to take care of their daily needs. My uncle has problems taking care of himself and he is getting very frail. I think an in-home care service will really help him out a lot.

  6. Thanks for bringing to my attention that weight loss can be a sign that your loved one needs care. My mother has been living alone, and she recently started losing a lot of weight. I’m worried that she’s not eating as much as she should, so maybe it would be best to find a caregiver to take care of her.

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