This is the first in a series of articles that walk families through the decision process of hiring a home care agency. Additional topics include how to evaluate home care agencies and caregivers, aligning expectations with home care agencies, and how to talk to your loved one about beginning at home care. Click here for our full series of articles on home care.

For some, there will be glaring red flags that your loved one needs assistance to continue living safely at home; for others, the signs will prove to be more subtle.

Difficulty with Activities of Daily Living (ADLs)

Hygiene can become a challenge for older adults who live alone. Your loved one may report taking a shower or bath regularly. Yet when you visit, you notice an unkempt appearance, or detect an unseemly odor, indicating a lack of hygiene. The home may show signs that basic cleanliness and maintenance are lagging. These examples reflect potential red flags that would prompt a conversation about the need for home care.

Personal grooming and maintaining a clean home are examples of activities of daily living (ADLs). Other ADLs include transferring, ambulating, dressing, cooking, eating, hygiene, and toileting. Most people are capable of performing ADLs independently within the context of stable health, strength, and dexterity for the better part of their lives. 

Changes in Behavior After a Medical Event

Changes that come with the aging process often include physical or cognitive decline, affecting the trajectory of a person’s life. A catastrophic medical event, such as a fall, heart attack, or stroke typically requires hospitalization, possible surgery, and rehabilitation.

Returning home from the hospital after a major medical event will require a level of support in the home to ensure safety. Meal preparation, proper nutrition and hydration, and assistance with ambulation represent a few of the many ways in which a person may need support post-discharge from a hospital or rehab setting.

Help Eating Well

People who are isolated or have dementia often have unhealthy food habits, either eating foods that are not nutritional, or having insufficient food intake. Home care would provide the support necessary to ensure a healthy diet.

Determining Whether Home Care Is Appropriate

If you notice changes in a loved one’s memory, or observe physical difficulty ambulating throughout the home, further questions are prompted, such as:

  • Is my loved one able to stay home safely by him or herself?
  • Would it be supportive to have someone in the home to make sure that their needs are being met appropriately?
  • Do we need to look at other solutions like moving out of the home and into a setting that provides an infrastructure of engagement and support?

See our next article: Opening a conversation with a loved one about home care

About Karen Faith Gordon

Karen specializes in providing support to individuals and families addressing issues of aging. Services provided include mental health counseling, grief counseling, patient advocacy, medical care coordination, real estate and placement guidance to address short and long term care needs, and adaptive yoga for optimal well being.

In a system fraught with bumpy rides, Karen provides guidance, direction, and reassurance to achieve optimal well-being for older adults and those caring for them.

Karen’s ideal client is someone who is facing the challenges of a spouse/parent/loved one who is experiencing cognitive or physical decline. This client seeks guidance and support from a knowledgeable expert to create a plan to address short- and long-term needs.

Her relationships with clients, colleagues, and providers of care reflect years of collaborative effort to achieve best outcomes. She has presented to audiences locally and nationally to educate on topics of care management, affordable health care, and the benefits of yoga and aging.