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When Senior Adults Should Ask For Help at Home

How to decide when home care assistance is needed

The majority of senior adults prefer to live in their homes for as long as possible, rather than move to a group living community.

However as we age, many important daily tasks become harder to complete independently. Dressing, bathing, driving, and shopping can become difficult for seniors to do on their own. Many seniors can also experience feelings of loneliness and isolation when they are unable to get out of the house as often as they used to.

Home health care is a possible solution for seniors who want to live at home but recognize that it is either difficult, or unsafe, for them to live completely alone anymore. Home health care usually falls into two categories — non-medical and skilled. Non-medical care workers help with what are called “Activities of Daily Living,” such as bathing, dressing, cooking, housekeeping, grocery shopping, pet care and companionship.  Skilled care workers are nurses who help with doctor-prescribed medications, therapies and disease care.

Because loss of ability usually occurs gradually, it can be difficult to decide when the time has come to get home health care assistance. Homewatch Caregivers, a home care company located in Beachwood, publishes a list of 17 questions to help determine if a senior adult may need help at home. The questions include whether there has been an increase in the number of injuries or falls, whether bathing or eating habits have changed and whether medications are being taken properly.

Depending on the needs of the senior adult, home health care can be obtained on a short-term or long-term basis, and it can be for just a few hours a day or around-the clock. Some care companies can provide a combination of both non-medical and skilled services. JFSA Care at Home, a service of Jewish Family Services Association, provides a “wraparound” set of services that are designed to care for all of the client’s medical and non-medical needs. They can also provide help manage paying the bills and insurance claim forms.

Be sure to check with a doctor before you make any decision regarding care of a senior adult. There are cases where living at home is not advisable, even with home care. The Cleveland Heights Office on Aging suggests first discussing these issues with the senior adult’s regular doctor, who can then refer them for a geriatric assessment. If the senior does not have a doctor that they see regularly, the Office on Aging suggests contacting the Geriatric Assessment Department at Lutheran Hospital (now part of Cleveland Clinic) or University Hospitals.

You may reach the above resources at the following numbers: Homewatch Caregivers (216-593-0120), JFSA Care at Home (216-378-8660), Cleveland Heights Office on Aging (216-691-7342), Lutheran Hospital (216-696-4300), University Hospitals (216-844-8447).

Alaina Coyle November 29, 2011 at 05:17 PM
It's definitely a good idea for family members to keep an alert eye on their elderly loved ones. When my mother began missing doses of her medications and not making healthy meals for herself, it took a couple weeks before I noticed. I wish I had been more aware of what was going on, but at least I was able to catch on before she lost any weight or got sick or anything. Now I'm grateful I have a great caregiver who helps her part-time, and the bonus is that the agency uses ClearCare <a href=“http://clearcareonline.com”>care management software</a> - something I highly recommend. I can easily keep track of what goes on at my Mom's house, and be confident she's getting the best care.

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