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Most older individuals are happy, healthy and self-reliant. However, the aging process eventually brings about physical and mental changes that can interfere with an active and independent lifestyle.

A decline in functional abilities doesn’t always mean they need a move to assisted living or a nursing home, but it does indicate a need for extra help to support a senior’s desire to age in the place they feel is best for them. Family members often step in to provide support and supervision, but hiring in-home help may be necessary at some point to address their increasing care needs.

Like most care decisions, knowing when to take this step can be difficult. A good rule of thumb is that simply if you’re already wondering when it’s time to seek out more help, then the time is probably now. Ultimately, finding some support for them will benefit you and your loved one.

Here’s a quick look at some to consider when thinking if home care could help your parents safely age in place.

Your Loved One’s Care Needs Are Increasing
Changes in personal appearance and household cleanliness typically indicate a shift in physical and/or mental status. Even subtle behavioral changes may imply that an elder is no longer willing or able to complete everyday tasks without support. Maybe you’ve noticed that Dad’s unopened mail is piling up or that Grandma, once meticulous about her appearance, is wearing dirty clothes and not doing her hair. Other signs include inadequate fresh food in the house, evidence of weight loss, forgetting to take medications, and unexplained bruising that often points to changes in mobility.

A change in long established personal hygiene routines is one of the most common red flags. Although older people may not bathe as frequently as they did when they were younger, a strong smell of urine or body odour or refusal to change out of dirty clothes indicates it is time to step in. A noticeable decline in grooming habits and personal care is a sure sign that someone is struggling physically and/or mentally to meet their own needs.

New or worsening health issues often indicate that someone could benefit from increased assistance at home. A home care provider can help an aging loved one monitor their vital signs, manage chronic medical conditions, navigate their complex medication regimen, participate in therapy exercises that improve independence, and care for wounds.

You’re Experiencing Caregiver Stress or Burnout
If you are currently helping your loved one with food shopping, housekeeping, transportation to appointments or managing their medications, be honest about how this added responsibility is affecting you, your family and your schedule. Caregiving is emotionally demanding and physically exhausting. It is important for family caregivers to recognise the signs of caregiver burnout and acknowledge when they need to share the workload.

When the level of care a loved one requires becomes more than you can handle, or your level of involvement negatively impacts your work, relationships, finances and/or health, then it is time to look into respite care. Hiring a caregiver for in-home help may be the best solution for everyone involved since it provides both you and your loved one with the support you need in a familiar environment.

How to Start the Conversation About In-Home Help for Seniors
If you’ve noticed the red flags above in your loved one and/or yourself, the time to discuss in-home care is sooner rather than later. Do not wait until a crisis occurs.

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