Does Your Aging Loved One Need Help?
In this blog we will discuss the signs you should look for to tell whether your aging parent or loved one needs help. Every situation is unique and caregiving services will vary in type and in frequency. Caregiving can either come from you, the friend or family member, or from licensed caregivers like a certified nursing assistant (CNA) or a home health aide (HHA). The kinds of signs you notice will often indicate what level of caregiving services you need.
Signs that your parent or loved one needs assistance are not always explicitly related to severe health problems. Health may be the underlying factor, but overall physical decline is a common sign of aging and not necessarily a sign that help is needed. However, if you notice that your loved one is having a lot of difficulty with day to day life, then you should consider finding a solution. One of the first signs to look for is a living environment that is becoming increasingly dirty or untidy. Such examples of this include:
- A house that is excessively cluttered with papers, bills, or garbage
- A lawn that is not maintained
- A house that is in a low state of repair
- A house that smells bad because of spoiled food 
These signs usually mean that your loved one is incapable of reversing (or just unaware of) the conditions that are deteriorating the quality of their living spaces. If this is the case, then consider finding someone to help out around the house.
Sometimes health problems will get in the way of your loved one’s ability to perform everyday activities. These signs may not always be extremely serious and could just be a result of aging. For instance, declining physical strength and ability will affect their capacity to do chores around the house. Signs may include:
- Having a hard time cleaning the house
- More difficulty with strenuous physical labor like mowing the lawn or house repair
- Increased effort climbing up and down stairs
Aging also comes with declines in vision, hearing, coordination and/or memory. These deficiencies may mean that normal chores and tasks are no longer being accomplished. These experiences will hinder the efficiency of your loved one’s life and such inefficiencies are observable in how the house looks and especially in your interactions with them. All of these instances should indicate that your loved one needs to find some assistance performing a variety of everyday tasks if only for a few hours per day or per week.
More urgent signs will likely include many of the above examples combined with more severe health problems. You may find that your loved one is:
- Forgetting things more frequently like important appointments, daily routines, or even who certain people are
- Experiencing drastic mood changes
- Completely incapable of caring for themselves hygienically or physically
- Incontinent, meaning he or she can no longer use the bathroom normally
Serious health problems like a degenerative neurological disorder, broken bones, cancers, and surgical operations will radically alter your loved one’s life. Such problems may have been anticipated like a scheduled medical procedure (e.g. hip replacement) or they may have come unexpectedly and gradually like a degenerative neurological disease. (See ElderCare at Home’s previous blog for signs and symptoms of common neurological disorders.) Such problems should be monitored and evaluated by a medical professional and care should be provided. These situations will likely call for longer, more sustained forms of caregiving.
You can find caregiving services from a nurse registry or a nursing home. If you choose to purchase services through a nurse registry, like ElderCare at Home, then you are free to schedule assistance however often you need it. A caregiver can come to you for two hours per week or all seven days of the week. Additionally, a nursing home will mean placing your loved one in a Skilled Nursing Care center’s hands for prolonged care. If these options are not within your means and if you are the caregiver, then consider looking into places like the Alzheimer’s Care Resource Center or your local Area Agency on Aging (AAA) which are places that can provide resources for you, as the family caregiver, like individual or group counseling. Being a family caregiver is not an easy task and you will need all the support you can get.
If you have any questions, feel free to visit Elder Care at Home’s website or call 800-285-0093.
 Examples provided in this article were inspired by these links: https://www.agingcare.com/Articles/signs-your-parent-needs-help-143228.htm and http://www.aplaceformom.com/blog/12-01-2015-signs-your-senior-parents-need-help