Do You Need a Home Care Service?Do you need a Home Care Service?

If you’re like many older adults, you’re determined to live in your home for as long as possible. In many cases, aging in place is a good choice. You can stay near friends and neighbors and enjoy the comforts of familiar surroundings. Your family, on the other hand, may wonder if you need help at home, even when you tell them you’re doing fine. Or you may think you need a hand but aren’t certain. Here’s a checklist of things to consider on your own and with input from your family.

Is your home set up for aging in place?

Before hiring home care, you need to decide if your home works for aging in place.

  • Are there safety adaptations like grab bars, an entrance ramp, or a stair lift, or can you install them?
  • Can you rearrange cluttered rooms and remove throw rugs to reduce the risk of falls?
  • Does the home have working smoke and carbon monoxide detectors?
  • Do you have a mobile or cordless phone or a call button you can reach from the floor if you fall?
  • Is the neighborhood safe and accessible?

If your home is safe or can be adapted, consider these signs that you need extra help at home.

Do you need help with daily tasks?

Many older adults need a hand with one or more activities of daily living. These include but aren’t limited to

  • Bathing
  • Dressing
  • Caring for nails, hair, and teeth
  • Toileting
  • Preparing meals
  • Eating
  • Staying hydrated
  • Getting around the house
  • Taking medications on time

Other routine tasks can be a challenge as we age, such as:

  • Managing money and paying bills on time
  • Driving, taking the bus, or arranging for other transportation
  • Shopping for food and necessities
  • Storing fresh food, disposing of spoiled food, and keeping the kitchen free of pests
  • Wearing hearing aids, glasses, and using a cane or walker if needed
  • Answering the phone, using your personal call button, or chatting with loved ones via computer
  • Caring well for your pets
  • Keeping the home relatively clean
  • Remembering to lock doors and windows

Signs that you need home care now

Even if your home is safe for aging in place and you’re handling your daily activities well, some things are red flags that indicate an immediate need for extra help at home, such as

  • An illness or fall that leaves you unable to call for help while you’re alone
  • A fire due to cooking, appliances, or smoking materials
  • Signs of depression or early-stage dementia — an inability to make decisions, not answering calls or knocks at the door, inability to remember whether you’ve eaten or taken your medications
  • Wandering away from home – if you find yourself somewhere else and unable to remember how you got there, it’s time to talk to a doctor and get home help

Your family’s caregiving status

Most senior home-care givers are family members, usually adult children with kids of their own and jobs outside the home. If you get help from a family member, be sensitive to their workload. If they seem exhausted or if there’s no backup helper, it’s time to hire home care help, for your sake and theirs. It’s a big adjustment, but it means you’ll have the care you need and your loved ones will be less stressed and better able to help you, too.

Casey Kelly-Barton is an Austin-based freelance writer whose childhood was made awesome by her grandmothers, great-grandmother, great-aunts and -uncles, and their friends.

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