Does Your Loved One Need Assisted Care?

18th Aug 13

It's always rough to watch our parents, grandparents or even our friends have trouble with their day to day lives.They may not be as agile as they use to be, perhaps they are getting tired quickly, walking slowly or leaning on chairs and walls as they move about their home.

Although we may just put it down to the natural aging process, the best thing we can do for them is assess what we can do to make their lives easier and keep them safe in the long term.

There are several signs to look for when assessing whether someone needs assisted living or home help. It is certainly not age specific. Some need day to day help in their 60's while others are still going for daily jogs and doing yoga at 90. People age at different rates and everyone has their own unique needs so it is important to assess people individually.

The following are some common signs to look for if you suspect a family member or friend may be dealing with cognitive or physical problems.

Check their hearing and eye sight
Although they may have glasses and/or hearing aids, as we age these issues can get progressively worse and despite our best efforts these aids may not have as much impact as they should. Losing your eyesight can have a huge impact on independent living in terms of driving, reading signs and medications and even just getting around the house. Losing your hearing can also be distressing as it hinders a person's ability to hear and understand important instructions or smoke alarms. You should pay attention to whether your loved one is able to read the newspaper and see the television clearly. Try asking your family member a question when their back is turned or when you are at a distance to determine whether their eye sight or hearing is significantly impaired. 

Taking care of the basics
Often when we get older we may lose our appetite or even forget to eat or head to the grocery store. Check the fridge for fresh produce and make sure nothing is growing in there! Having plenty of healthy, fresh food in the house usually indicates that a person is still able to take good care of themselves by shopping and cooking regular meals. Also do a check in the bathroom for hygiene essentials like toothpaste, soap and toilet paper. It is also important to ensure the house, their clothing and they are clean. Often as issues like dementia and Alzheimer's set in, a person's ability to take care of seemingly easy but essential tasks like hygiene can slip.

Keeping up appearances
Check your family members skin is soft and a normal colour. Dehydrated skin can appear cracked and dry, while bruising and wounds can be an indication of impaired vision or balance which can cause serious injury. Dehydration can be extremely serious for the elderly, as could a fall if the person was unable to call for help. Be on the look-out for a loss of balance or a family member who appears to be unsteady on their feet. Older people can have a difficult time getting up if they fall with nobody to help them and as there is a progressive loss of bone density as we age, the elderly are at a higher risk of breaks and fractures. Also take the time to inspect any medications they might be taking. This is to make sure they are in fact taking what they have been prescribed but to take a note of what they are taking, what for and who has prescribed it. Having a professional, assisted care can ensure the right medication is taken at the right time and all doctors' appointments have been made and prescriptions picked up.

Trust your instinct
The most important reason to suggest assisted care for your loved one could just be intuition. We know them best and can usually tell if they are running low and may need some help. It may be as simple as a change in personality that leads to concern or a noticeable decline in physical ability, whatever the reason approach the subject with your loved one with compassion.


Image: Care in the home by British Red Cross, CC-BY-2.0

Filed under Residential Lifts

Written by

Ian has over 30 years experience in the service sector within Australia, New Zealand and Europe. He has gained a wealth of national and international knowledge throughout this time specialising in quality operational and service delivery both in the private and public sectors. For the last 6 years he has owned and operated Vestner, a New Zealand company specialising in the...

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