Dorothy Gale from Wizard of Oz said it best, “There’s no place like home.” Home is where we build our families, our memories, and a sense of comfort and belonging. For most of us, home is where we see ourselves living forever. However, as people age, living at home safely can become a challenge. Illness, changes in mobility, and the general effects of aging can create safety issues in and around the home. Because of this, family members often struggle with whether older loved ones are safe living on their own at home, or if they should move to an assisted living facility.
Can My Aging Love One Still Live at Home?
Assessing an older loved one’s health on a regular basis is important. In order to determine if they are able to age in place safely, family members must take a close look at several aspects of the person’s daily life. Make time for an in-person visit to evaluate the following:
- Mobility and safety within the home: Falls are a leading cause of injury for older adults in the home, so assessing how well your loved one is able to move about the home is essential. Are there stairs? Does the individual have trouble navigating them? Are there grab bars in the bathroom next to the toilet and in the shower? Does the person use a walker or wheelchair to get around? Can they move easily throughout the home with these devices? Is there a plan in place if a fall or other emergency should happen?
- Meal prep and eating: It is often difficult to know how well an older adult is eating and maintaining their physical health until you see them in person. Has your loved one lost a noticeable amount of weight? Can he or she still use appliances to cook? Is there outdated food in the refrigerator? Is there any indication that the stove has been left of by accident — burnt pots and pans, indications of a fire, etc.? These things can suggest that the individual is not eating properly and may need assistance with either shopping, meal preparation, or simply a companion to make mealtime more enjoyable.
- Personal hygiene: Take notice of how your loved one looks when you visit. Do they appear well groomed or do they have body odor or soiled clothing? An unkempt appearance is a clue that perhaps they are having trouble with bathing or laundry and may require help.
- Medication management and adherence: Taking medications on time and in the correct way is vital for maintaining health, particularly if the senior has one or more chronic conditions. Has the person been missing doses? Do you notice any indications that medicines are not being taken on time, like bottles of expired pills? Has the person had to go to the hospital or doctor due to complications from missed medications?
- Transportation issues: Is your loved one still able to drive? If so, have they gotten in any accidents lately? Do they ever get lost while driving? If they are not able to drive, how are they getting around? Are they able to get to medical appointments? Do they feel isolated from family and friends?
- Financial health: Something that many families forget about when considering whether a loved one can live safely at home is financial management. Being able to manage money and ensure bills are paid is an important part of senior independence. Is your loved one paying bills on time? Do you notice and signs of excessive spending? Have they fallen victim to any online or telemarketing scams?
What Can I Do if I Notice Signs That My Loved One Needs Help?
The need for some assistance is normal as people get older, and it is nothing to be ashamed of. Still, facing the decision to move to an assisted living facility or to try to remain at home with help is never easy. The prospect of leaving the comfort of home can feel overwhelming to older adults, and it can feel like a loss of independence. But there is a way to make living at home for a lifetime a possibility.
Home care services, like those offered by Nightingale Homecare, are the perfect solution for many to continue to live in the homes they love. Our professional care staff provide a wide range of services to ensure that senior loved ones can remain safely and happily at home as the age, including:
- Grocery shopping and running errands
- Planning and preparing nutritious meals
- Light housekeeping and laundry
- Monitoring vital signs and reporting changes
- Helping with bathing, dressing, and using the bathroom
- Assisting with exercise
- Providing medication reminders
- Caring for pets
- Providing transportation to and from medical appointments or fun outings
- Friendly companionship
- And much more