According to Elflein (2020), the majority of adults in the United States who are receiving home care are over the age of 65 years old and commonly require assistance for showers and functional transfers (i.e. in and out of bed, wheelchairs, baths, cars, etc.).
This should give adults children a rough idea of when it is time to have a serious talk with their aging parents about hiring an in-home caregiver.
What are some signs I should be looking for in my parents indicating that they need extra help at home?
Obvious health changes are present.
Your parents have recently experienced expected or unexpected changes to their health. This could include changes typical of aging such as muscle weakness, reduced stamina, visual deficits, and hearing changes. Others may include injury, surgical operations (i.e. joint replacements), and cognitive decline to name a few. Any time there is a new medical concern for seniors, families should take the time to assess their current living situation to see if hiring help is merited.
Activities of daily living are not getting done.
For seniors, it’s common to let a few things go with the intent to do necessary tasks at a later time. However, it becomes a problem if certain activities are simply not getting done such as showering, hygiene, regular toileting, eating, shopping, household duties, and financial management.
Your parents are experiencing increased falls at home. Reduced muscle strength and stamina, as well as other health issues, leads to loss of balance and falls. This is extremely dangerous, especially for seniors who live at home alone for most of the day.
Mental health is declining.
If your parents are experiencing cognitive changes or even mental illness (i.e. depression, anxiety), it is definitely time to look into hiring a caregiver. This could be for safety reasons, but it could also be a way for providing companionship for seniors living alone.
How do I best start the discussion about hiring an in-home caregiver?
Many seniors are used to independently functioning at home, and asking for help can be a very big change met with uncertainty and blatant refusal. Talk to your parents as lovingly as possible. Be open and honest with them about your concerns for their health and safety while acknowledging all of the things they can still do on their own. You may have to bring up this discussion several times in order for your parents to warm up to the idea of bringing someone else into their home on a regular basis.
What can I do to help my parents with the process?
Hiring a caregiver can be overwhelming for first-time seniors, so adult children can do a lot to ease the burden. With your parents’ permission, start some research and consultation with caregiver options.
This includes hiring home aides from home health care agencies, recruiting caregiver volunteers in the community, or designating family members to step up as caregivers themselves. If needs be, consult with the primary physician about whether or not your parents require a caregiver with medical background.
When it’s all said and done, make sure that you are putting your parents’ preferences and safety first. Since your parents are the ones who will have to adjust to having someone in their home, it is essential that their opinions and concerns are heard before hiring a consistent caregiver.
Elflein, J. (2020). Home care in the U.S. : Statistics & facts. Statista. https://www.statista.com/topics/4049/home-care-in-the-us/#:~:text=Most%20of%20those%20receiving%20home,aides%20in%20the%20United%20States.. Viewed on December 1, 2020.