When In-Home Care For Your Parent No Longer Meets Needs
Your mother or father may be like a good many older adults and has been accessing in-home care. Your parent may now have reached a juncture at which you wonder if in-home care is enough to meet their important needs. There are some signs that the time may have arrived to consider a level of assistance beyond an in-home care aide to work with your mother or father. The signs that an in-home caregiver for your parent is not enough include:
- Physical health conditions have developed that make in-home care less practical
- Cognitive issues, including memory problems, have become more pronounced
- Exhausted volunteer caretakers
Conversing About the Need for More Than In-Home Care
A conversation about the possible need for more than in-home care for an aging parent needs to be more that a brief, one-time event. Rather, conversing about the need for some type of assistance beyond in-home care should be one that is not rushed and evolves over time. What this means is that the family of an older individual who may need more assistance that what fairly can be provided by a homecare aide needs to begin a discussion of options in the most proactive manner possible.
As the Department of Health and Human Services makes note:
Conversations about changing circumstances can sometimes take quite a long time, and it can help if you are able to allow the process to unfold gradually rather than expecting to decide upon all the details at once. Discussing different care options and understanding the other person’s point of view are vital in decision-making. Asking your loved one what preferences they have and sharing information will make the process easier.
Physical Health Deterioration
A key reason why in-home care may not be enough assistance for your parent is physical health deterioration. Unfortunately, as people age they sustain an array of different types of physical health conditions that can make it challenging and even dangerous for them to continue to live alone. For example, they may develop a physical health condition that impairs mobility.
A lack of suitable mobility can have a significantly negative impact on your parent’s independence. Medical conditions that result in mobility issues can also make your parent more prone to be injured in an accident.
Signs of physical health deterioration that may warrant consideration of a transition to something like assisted living include:
- Increasing mobility issue, including going up and down stairs and walking to places a parent historically had no problem reaching
- Onset of a more significant medical condition that is notably painful or otherwise negatively impacts an aging parent’s life
- Accident of some sort that results in chronic issues including those associated with mobility or ongoing pain
- Advance of an existing condition (like arthritis) that makes tending to day to day tasks (even with a homecare aide) more challenging or complicated
Mental or Emotional Health Deterioration
Another type of issue that might arise and in-home care a questionable course to continue to take is that associated with mental, emotional, or cognitive deterioration. One of the most commonplace types of mental health conditions that can warrant a transition to something like assisted living or even memory care is a cognitive issue like dementia, including Alzheimer’s.
Your need to be as proactive as possible when it comes to a parent who may be developing cognitive issues. Signs of mild cognitive decline of a parent that can suggest the need to obtain more assistance beyond a homecare aide include:
- Forget things more often.
- Forget important events such as appointments or social engagements.
- Lose your train of thought or the thread of conversations, books or movies.
- Feel increasingly overwhelmed by making decisions, planning steps to accomplish a task or understanding instructions.
- Start to have trouble finding your way around familiar environments.
- Become more impulsive or show increasingly poor judgment.
- Family and friends notice any of these changes.
Meanwhile, signs of moderate cognitive decline include:
- Memory loss of recent events
- Personality changes, such as becoming more subdued or withdrawn
- Getting lost or misplacing objects
- Difficulty with problem-solving and complex tasks, such as managing finances
- Trouble organizing or expressing thought
Finally, signs associated with severe cognitive decline include:
- Changes in weight due to increased/decreased appetite
- Getting lost in a familiar environment
- Identity confusion
- Mood swings
- Not recognizing people, even the closest ones
- Poor hygiene
- Poor judgement
- Severe memory loss
Volunteer Caretaker Burnout
Another reason why the time may have arrived to transition your parent away from in-home care to something else may be the result of volunteer caretaker burnout. If you are experiencing volunteer caretaker burnout, you most definitely are not alone.
The majority of caretaking done in this country is by family members who volunteer their time on top of everything else they need to do. Signs of caretaker burnout include:
- Sleep problems
- Overwhelming fatigue
- Stomach aches
- Other types of pain
- Changes in eating habits
- Feeling helpless or hopeless
- Unusually argumentative
- Unusually irritable
- Unusually impatient
- Extreme moot swings
- Self- Medicating
Desire of Your Parent to Transition to Long-Term Care
Yet another primary sign that you parent may need some level of care above what can be provided at home is the desire of your mother or father for that type of assistance. For example, you may have reached a juncture in time at which your parent feels as if he or she would be better services living in an assisted living community.