There will likely come a time when the care of an elderly family member's exceed the limits of what the immediate family can provide. It is at that time that the family will begin researching in-home care and/or assistance.
The tasks associated with daily care can range from bathing, dressing, help in meal preparation, home cleaning to other tasks that your aging relative can no longer keep up with and that you, as the caregiver, may not have the time or skills to provide. As the caregiver, you need to recognize the signs that your loved one is at the precipice of needing additional care or even constant supervision. Levels of in-home care vary based on the needs of your aging family member. The best way to determine the level of care is to assess the needs of your aging relative. Here are some items to consider:
- Do they need household care such as house cleaning, shopping, cooking or laundry?
- Are they able to dress themselves? Shower? Cook and eat their meals? Can they get to and from the bathroom without assistance?
- Is your aging relative able to properly manage his medication? Get to physician’s appointments? Are they mobile enough to move around the house either with or without the aid of a cane or walker? Are they remaining active?
- Is the need for in home care on the emotional level? What does this mean? In short, is your relative in need of companionship and conversation? Does she need help getting involved in meaningful activities? Those could range from taking care of the family pet to working outside in the yard to simply getting physical activity on a daily basis.
- Do they need constant supervision that you simply can no longer provide because of your own family and career responsibilities?
When assessing the needs of your aging relative, you need to talk with her and get her input. Is she comfortable with the idea of a “stranger” coming into the home to help her out? Would she prefer a male or female caregiver? Is she convinced she can still “do it all” herself? If this is the case, you may need to call a family meeting and kindly but firmly point out the items that the family has noticed that has prompted the idea of in-home care.
Could the level of in-home care be cut back if the family spends time “age proofing the house?” This could involve making sure rugs are non skid, that the bathroom has grab bars, that there are no trip or fall hazards, that the kitchen is rearranged so that he doesn’t need to stretch or climb on a stepstool to reach everyday items. Consider too, offering your relative the option of a home medical alert device which could alleviate the need for round-the-clock care as the device offers access to emergency medical care (if needed) at the push of a button.