Older generations are fiercely independent. At least, that’s how they’d describe it. Loved ones may label their attitude a bit differently, but the fact is, aging parents often have a different set of goals than their children do. While the parents do what they can to maintain the lifestyle they have cultivated; their children feel a responsibility to protect their parents from any harm.
This dynamic creates a truly difficult situation when it comes to deciding whether or not it is time for in-home care. To help navigate this scenario, we asked Mandy Johnson, LMSW, a care coordination senior manager at Banner Home Care to share her experience creating care programs that make both sides comfortable.
Listening and Empathizing with Your Loved One
It can be hard to describe the fears associated with aging. The first inclination can be to push that reality away, ignoring the risks to try and hold on to previous ways of life. “Be empathetic with your loved one and help them understand that you respect their feelings,” said Johnson. “Make sure they understand that you are on the same side. Be sure to ask their opinions and listen carefully to what they have to say, even (especially) if you disagree.”
Once trust has been established, you can express yourself to your aging parent. No matter the response, it’s important that you maintain an attitude of collaboration and equality. Do not talk down to your parent or speak as if you know best. Establishing shared goals is the best way to work cooperatively.
Looking for the Signs
Johnson described key indicators that it’s time to consider in-home care. These concerns include:
- Increased medical concerns
- Weight loss
- Poor upkeep of the house
- Frequent falls
- Unexplained bruises
- New dents in the car
- Unexplained accidents
- Reports of your loved one getting lost
Some of these situations can feel scary and result in a defensive response but remember to approach the situation respectfully while looking for a solution that keeps everyone safe.
Building Plans that Increase Independence
“Patient willingness is among the biggest factors in building an effective plan,” said Johnson. “It is important to include your parents in decisions. Reassure them that you can start slow, retaining as much independence as possible. Patients have a right to choose, even if it is not the choice we want from them. Including them in the conversation could mean making small compromises such as weekly, rather than daily visits, from a caregiver and offering a pendent to patients to help them feel independent and safe. Once they are more comfortable, increased care may become more welcome.” A well-constructed plan for care will increase your parent’s independence, eliminating possible roadblocks and hardships.
What Services are Available for In-Home Care?
Johnson explained that in-home care is an extremely flexible option for support. “Patients choose the days and times they want a caregiver. They have a say in what care or assistance they are looking for and the type of caregiver they want. Some individuals use caregivers as needed for monthly grocery shopping and medical appointments. Others plan for visits several times per week to offer help with basic needs, cooking, showering, etc. Most agencies have a minimum requirement of 2-4 hours per service. Although that may seem like a lot of time, there is a lot that can be done during that time.”
While live-in caregivers are very rare, overnight services are not uncommon. Frequently, family members try to provide this care but struggle to get adequate sleep, which can affect their health and lead to inadvertent neglect. Many families schedule a caregiver every other day. As care increases, sometimes the caregiver will come in the morning to help the patient get around and then return in the evening to assist with the bedtime routine. Johnson re-emphasized, “we are very flexible.” Some of Banner Home Care’s most common services include:
- Diabetes assistance
- Home medical equipment
- Infusion therapy
- Nutrition consultations
- Therapy services
- Banner Lifeline
Is It Time?
Understanding when in-home care is needed depends on a lot of factors. Johnson urges families to act sooner rather than later. “Falls are a clear indicator that in-home care may be needed. Increased falls often lead to further medical complications, requiring more treatment and care than would have been needed if help was brought in sooner. Poor nutrition is another clear indicator that help is needed. More than half of the elderly population receives inadequate nutrition. This increases when the person lives alone.”
Speaking with a home care expert can be extremely helpful in determining what level of in-home care may be necessary. Set up a meeting with the Banner Home Care team to discuss the nuances of your family’s situation.