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When Is It Time For Home Care? Look For These Signs

New Jersey Home Care News & Tips

A home health aide can be an important help to both an elderly parent and their adult children. Unfortunately, many people wait longer than they should before choosing to bring a home health aide into an aging loved one’s home.

Whether it’s for fear of “rocking the boat” – simply raising the issue of home care may sit poorly with some older people who see it as a threat to their independence – an inability to see the status quo for what it is, or a decision to hold off because they don’t know where to turn for help, many adult children wait until the decision is made for them. This is usually after a health crisis, where a parent has shown that he or she is no longer safe at home, or a change in family dynamics (such as after the death or illness of the other spouse, or adult children moving away).

A home health aide can make a huge difference in the life of an elderly person – and his or her family – by not only being the adult child’s ears and eyes when they can’t be there, but supporting the individual’s Activities of Daily Living (cleaning, grooming, bathing, toileting), getting them to important appointments, and providing much-needed companionship.

When is the time right to bring a home health aide into a loved one’s home?

Here are some very clear signals to watch for:

    1. They seem “more needy.” A once independent individual who is now demanding more and more from a family member – often one who is busy with his or her own life, or who doesn’t live nearby – can be a cry for help. A home health aide will not only provide the elderly person with the stimulation they need, but will free the family caregiver from the guilt they undoubtedly feel.
    2. They are starting to decline mentally or physically. In many cases, the decline is progressive – as opposed to one that happens suddenly (following a specific event). Making sure the individual is both safe at home and can enjoy the benefits of a home health aide while they still can is critical.
    3. They are showing signs of depression. Depression is particularly prevalent in older people. Perhaps they are showing sadness over the loss of family members and/or friends and need a boost, which a home health aide can provide.
    4. They had an event that may be a precursor to other, more serious ones. Adult children can’t afford to ignore a fall, a forgetful incident (such as leaving the oven on or getting lost on a familiar route) or an out-of-character moment (for example, ranting over a minor thing, or holding a grudge against a family member or friend for no reason).
    5. They have become shut-ins. Very often, this could be the result of feeling depressed (to the point they don’t want to get out of bed) or insecure about navigating the outside world without help.
    6. They seem diminished. In many cases, it may be difficult for an adult child to put his or her finger on the change in a loved one. It may be the case of a once outgoing and gregarious individual suddenly becoming withdrawn, or a self-confident, take-no-prisoners person becoming meek and submissive.

Should any one of these signs present themselves – and chances are it will be more than one – it’s time for family caregivers to either get more personally involved in their loved one’s care or consider bringing in a home health aide. Ignoring these signs can be a serious mistake.

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