Community Blog

Is it Time for Help in the Home?

By Kelly A. Petty, Marketing Manager

Sometimes, reuniting with family can show how much Mom, Dad, or other aging loved ones have changed over the past months, or even, year. It can be surprising how much they seem to need our help. This time together can be an opportunity to assess their well-being and make changes, if needed.

Awareness to changes in your aging loved one is one of the first steps of the aging journey. During your visits, paying close attention to the following areas can help you decide whether your loved one needs assistance. Common problems can be grouped into five areas to consider, when assessing your aging family members:

Life Tasks

Life tasks are fundamental self-care activities that need to be done, whether we do them for ourselves or have someone do them for us. Life tasks include two areas:

Activities of Daily Living (ADLs):

  • Walking and getting around
  • Dressing
  • Bathing
  • Using the toilet independently
  • Grooming
  • Feeding
  • Finances
  • Transportation
  • House Cleaning and Chores
  • Shopping
  • Meal Preparation
  • Using the TelephoneSafetyFinances
  • Safety is a big one. But while safety may seem like a priority for families, older loved ones and family members may sacrifice safety or be in denial over the reality of the situation. After all, no one wants to see independence lost and the senior more than likely wants to remain autonomous. Here are the areas of safety to watch out for:
  • Check the cupboards for groceries and watch your loved one interact with family members and friends. Are they getting around okay and is their personal hygiene normal? If you notice that something is off with the above life tasks, it may be time to have a conversation.
  • Are there problems paying bills?
  • Are you concerned about scams?
  • Memory and Thinking
  • Have there been problems with wandering or getting lost?
  • Have there been issues forgetting about the stove or other appliances / home equipment?
  • Is there concern about poor safety awareness or poor judgment?
  • Driving
  • Have there been any accidents or close calls?
  • Do passengers feel worried?
  • Elder Abuse
  • Have you heard of, or do you have any concerns about emotional, verbal or physical abuse?
  • Do you have any concerns that someone is financially taking advantage of your loved one?
  • Health
  • Has your loved one had any falls?
  • Have there been repeated trips to the emergency room (ER) or hospital? There are ways to prevent falls in your elderly loved ones. But it’s important to first be aware of any safety problems before addressing how to deal with or avoid them. Sadly, many seniors live with chronic health problems. But there are some problems that require your attention as they may be red flags or signs that quality of life is at stake or health may be at risk:

  • Physical Health
  • Instead of being in denial, it’s important to address safety concerns in a timely manner. You may want to visit your loved one’s physician, or seek clinicians with experience assessing older adults.
  • Have there been frequent ER visits or hospitalizations?
  • Are there obvious declines in health or strength?
  • Have you noticed weight loss or a poor appetite?
  • Has your loved one complained of pain or other uncomfortable symptoms
  • Is there decreased involvement in life activities related to health problems?

  • Mood and Brain Health
  • Does your loved one suddenly seem different? Is there a hint of depression or anxiety that wasn’t there before? Maybe memory problems are affecting their mood. Things to watch for in this important area:
  • You may want to consider visiting your loved one’s doctor on the next visit or even do some online research about your loved one’s conditions to help you better understand the problems.
  • Does your loved one have sudden or frequent sadness?
  • Is there a loss of interest in activities they used to enjoy?
  • Has there been a personality change?
  • Does your loved one have hopelessness?
  • Is your loved one experiencing excessive or unusual worrying?
  • Are there memory problems?
  • Have you noticed a difficulty in their learning new things?
  • Is organization a problem?
  • Are there new difficulties with mental tasks?
  • Have you noticed problems in driving?
  • Have there been mistakes with finances?
  • Is there unusual spending of money?
  • Is there a lack of social or purposeful activities?
  • Does your loved one suddenly seem or feel lonely?

  • Medication Safety and Management
  • Last, but certainly not least, medications can play a crucial role in a senior’s life. They can be vital for keeping certain health conditions under control, but can also create side effects and a plethora of other health problems. Medications can also take a lot of time and money, so it’s important to be aware and proactive when it comes to your aging loved one's medication safety. Key questions to consider:
  • Depression and cognitive changes can be common in older adults; especially if there has been a loss of a spouse or other traumatic event. Consult a doctor, look for a geriatrician, geriatric psychologist or geriatric psychiatrist for help in evaluating and diagnosing the problem.
  • Can your loved one afford their prescriptions?
  • Are they having trouble taking all the prescriptions as recommended?
  • Are they refilling their medications regularly?
  • Are they skipping medications?
  • Are there side effects or worrisome symptoms related to medication?

  • What Can You Do When Your Parents Are Resisting Help?
  • Being loving, patient and understanding will take you a long way. Sometimes cognitive impairments are to blame and sometimes stubborn family members are the culprit. Whatever the problem, it will most likely be a challenge; but it’s important to separate what you need from what your parent needs. If you and your siblings or family members are all on the same page, this is a huge help.

  • Thank you for considering Home Helpers! 

  • As always, we here at Home Helpers offer free consultations to talk with you about concerns regarding your aging parent. Please visit www.homehelpershomecare.com/westminster for further information about our services and testimonials regarding our care or you can call us at 303-412-5534.
  • Problems in each of these areas listed above make your loved one susceptible to problems in other areas, so it’s important you ask questions and be his or her advocate before things get worse. However, sometimes your aging parent or loved one doesn’t want your help. If this sounds familiar, there are steps you can take to help reduce frustration and stress for everyone involved. After all, when you’re home, it’s important for you to be prepared if you do notice any problems and be aware of potential communication issues.
  • There are ways to eliminate unnecessary pills. If you take the medications and ask the pharmacist or doctor to simplify, your loved one can take pills fewer times during the day. Additionally, there are also common problems, such as pain, depression and arthritis which can be treated with non-drug methods. Asking your loved one’s doctor about non-drug alternatives, and being aware of some of the risky drugs for seniors, is also important.