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  • Writer's pictureNatalie Lehr-Splawinski, Marketing Communications

Signs that a senior needs help at home

Updated: May 30, 2023

We all age differently based on various factors: genetics, overall well-being (the unique combination a person's physical, mental, emotional and social health factors), lifestyle (the mode of living: nutrition, physical activity level, habits & more), living environment, race, social support & more. While some aging adults remain healthier and mobile, others struggle with chronic health issues, conditions, and some with physical and mental diseases.

Be and stay observant, thoughtful and always remain helpful to seniors in your family, neighbourhood and community. Watch out for changes in a senior’s behaviour and abilities which are important signs for needed support with some or even or all activities of daily living (ADLs). Most seniors won’t share or admit that they need any assistance or might be in denial that they have arrived at that point - to ask for help, unless they are fully independent and mobile.

As the majority of seniors want to age in their own home, a specific level of home care support is necessary to help them to continue living independently as long as their health allows it. Healthy & safely aging in place also requires safety home care adaptations based on the seniors specific health & mobility status.

Consider the person as a whole - the person’s current physical, mental and emotional health status, any health conditions, illnesses and or diseases. Observe mobility, hearing and vision abilities. A good idea is to start a checklist of a seniors ability to perform ADLs and keep monitor over the next several weeks to be able to make an informed decision on the level of the seniors Independence. Consult with close family, friends and the person's family physician and the Power of Attorney , if the person has one.

Local Seniors community centres usually offer helpful resources and support for seniors and their family members.

What are the activities of daily living (ADLs)

1. Personal care tasks: bathing/showering, getting dressed/undressed, personal hygiene, toileting (using the bathroom independently) and grooming (including basic hair, nail & skin care, shaving & oral care). What is the person’s continence level?

2. Daily tasks & regular activities: getting in & out of bed, light meal prep, cooking a fresh meal, eating, doing dishes, doing grocery shopping, going for a walk, using stairs, remembering & taking medications regularly, running errands, going to medical appointments and staying socially active, light housekeeping & laundry, making bed etc.

3. Memory care: conversing, remembering/reminiscing, reading, telling a story and naming loved ones.

How and how frequently does a senior perform ADLs?

  1. daily

  2. certain days of the week

  3. weekdays only

  4. weekends only

  5. once a week - sign of declining abilities

  6. twice a week- alarming, best to arrange a home care needs assessment

  7. rarely - the person is not able to take care of them self at all

a. Fully independent

b. Occasionally requires or wants assistance

c. Frequently needs help - sign of declining abilities

d. Needs help at all times - every day - action needs to be taken right away!

How to help a senior with declined ADLs abilities?

Engage the person in a casual conversation on how she/he is managing living at home, especially if the seniors lives by themselves. Consider the person as a whole - their physical, emotional, mental/ cognitive functionality including their hygiene and their living environment. Offer your help or a friend's help and advise on a free private home care assessment to assess the person's holistic care needs, home safety and mobility. Keep in mind that seniors suffering from Dementia/Alzheimer's will require help with all ADLS as the diseases unfortunately progress and there is still no cure.

If you are a friend or neighbour, approach family members to discuss who is best equipped to be able to address the senior decline in independence and get professional help for a home health care needs assessment.

Often, family members become part-time and or full-time caregivers for their aging parents or other family members due to obligation. Get support and help before an aging loved one becomes a responsibility to avoid family caregiver burnout. Help occasionally, visit often, support the person emotionally while living your own life. Speak to the family physician and reach out for help in your community, for example in a seniors centre close to the person's home. There are many helpful resources offered by seniors societies & seniors community centres, online and in person. Take advantage of local seniors meal delivery and professional homemaking, companionship and personal care services to enrich the seniors quality of life by helping them to age in place.

Any qualified holistic home health care company like ourselves, Seniors Choice For Care will gladly assist you. We service seniors in the Greater Vancouver/Lower Mainland BC, Canada area and work closely with their families to help them remain at their place of living as long as possible. If you live in the area, contact us for a free home care consultation at 604.551.8867!

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