Elder Care 101: What you NEED to Know

Mom loves living in her home where she raised her kids. But she doesn’t always remember to take her medicine … and sometimes the fridge doesn’t get filled. Grandpa was fine living alone until a fall made it harder to get around. As our loved ones age, sometimes they help to continue living happily on their own.

If you are considering elder care, here are some things you should know.

Does my loved one need extra help?

Watching our family members get older is a hard process for everyone. For them, age can bring unexpected changes to their mental and physical health that leaves them less able to care for themselves. And for you, there are difficult decisions to be made when this happens.

But how do you know if your loved one needs that extra help now? Take stock of their well-being.

Ask yourself:

  • Do they have difficulty walking? Are they unsteady on their feet or falling?
  • Are they neglecting their personal hygiene?
  • Do they have trouble concentrating? Are you concerned about their decision making skills?
  • Are they suffering from memory loss, confusion or a feeling of “fogginess”?
  • Do they take the medications properly and per instructions?
  • Are they not eating well?
  • Is their energy level down? Do they suffer from fatigue?
  • Are they moody?
  • Is their driving questionable? Are you concerned they may be a danger to themselves or others behind the wheel?
  • Are they paying their bills on time? Are they opening their mail?
  • Do you have concerns about the safety and sanitary conditions of their home?

What help does my loved one need?

When it comes to elder care, there is no one-size-fits-all solution because every case is different. From home services like house cleaning to part- or full-time elder care, there are many services available to help your loved one continue living in their own happily – and safely.

Start by looking at the parts of your loved ones life that are in need of assistance. Do they need a little help and companionship to make the week run smoother? Is their house in need of more cleaning help them they can do themselves? Or do they need more frequent assistance to ensure that they are staying on top of all of life’s chores and duties?

What type of help is available?

  • Part-Time Help – Part-time caregivers are great for providing companionship to your loved ones. They can help with personal care, medications and schedules, drive your loved one places and do light chores like laundry and cooking.
  • Full-Time Help – Full-time caregivers do many of the same tasks as part-time ones, but they do so on a more frequent basis. If your loved one needs more time with someone to help with their day-to-day tasks, then full-time help can be perfect.
  • Special Needs Care – When your loved one is impacted by Dementia, Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, strokes, broken bones or surgery, they sometimes need specialized care. These type of elder care professionals can help with personal care, medications, scheduling and running errands. Special needs care can also help with companionship – both through overnight care and through activities.
  • 24/7 Care – For those who need constant non-medical care, 24/7 care is available to ensure that your loved one lives comfortably (and safely) in their home.

What is a CNA? A HHA?

When selecting elder care, you will probably hear acronyms like CNA and HHA used to describe the people who are available. But what do these certifications mean? A CNA is a certified nursing assistant and a HHA is a home health aide. Both are have similar capabilities – they both can help with daily activities like bathing, light household duties, dressing and personal care. But a CNA – often found in care facilities – can also perform some medical tasks to under the supervision of a registered nurse or licensed practical nurse, which a HHA cannot.

Does my loved one have dementia?

You can tell when something is just … off with your loved one. But does that also mean that they are experiencing dementia? Dementia refers to symptoms that affect one’s social and thinking abilities and hinder that ability to perform once-easy daily functions.

According to the Mayo Clinic, signs of dementia include memory loss, difficulty communicating, difficulty with complex tasks, planning and organizing, difficulty with coordination and motor functions, disorientation, personality changes, inappropriate behavior, paranoia, agitation and hallucinations.

If your loved one experiences some of these symptoms, they should see their doctor.

Don’t forget about you

When your parents and loved ones age – and especially as their health declines and they need more help with everyday things – it can be stressful. You are losing the vibrant people who raised you as the roles reverse and you care for them. It’s sad, and it’s hard. Be sure as you deal with elder care that you remember to take care of yourself – eating well, exercising and taking breaks. Get help when you need it and find support – either through friends who are experiencing similar things or through support groups. These will help you cope with the changes and best prepare to help your loved ones with elder care.

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