The realization that a parent or loved one can no longer live on their own and care for himself or herself can be disheartening, especially if they have yet to accept it. Their safety and well-being is your primary concern and while you’d rather see them age comfortably in their own home and maintain their independence rather than move to a care facility, how can you be sure that they are safe, secure and well taken care of? Rest assured, whether you are the primary caregiver or a concerned loved one who lives at a distance, there are certain steps that can be taken to make certain that your loved one is happy and safe at home:
1. Complete a senior care falls prevention checklist or have a home safety evaluation completed by a geriatric care manager.
2. Address your loved one’s needs in different areas. Are they getting proper nutrition? Are they managing their medications properly? Is transportation a concern? Are they getting enough exercise? Have they reduced their social stimulation?
3. Consider your approach regarding hiring an at home caregiver when addressing these concerns with your loved one. These conversations can appear threatening to their independence. Approach change slowly and try to find out what issues they would like addressed, remind them that your goal is to help them remain as independent as possible. Sometimes trying something out temporarily can be a way to introduce a service (i.e. If they have been ill, try hiring an at home companion on a “trial basis” to help with housekeeping and meals); they may find that they really enjoy this.
4. Learn about what resources are available to help with the care of your loved one at home. Contact your local Area Agency on Aging (can be found at www.eldercare.gov), local senior services, home health agency or geriatric care manager. Knowing what is out there can give you great peace of mind. This knowledge will also be very valuable if a crisis does occur.
5. Explore tools for checking in, whether it be a Personal Emergency Response System (“fall” button), regular calls from family or friends, monitoring systems or other aging in place technology. Minimally, you want to ensure help can be reached if something were to happen.
6. Private duty home healthcare companies can provide a variety of support—from temporary assistance when someone is ill or home from the hospital, to preparing meals and doing laundry once a week, through more intensive hands-on at home healthcare for someone who needs physical assistance. EasyLiving, Inc. provides a concierge service for accompanying your loved one to arts and culture events, family outings or even as a travel companion in order to keep your loved one engaged and their mind active.
Something as simple as tripping over a power cord can result in your loved one becoming seriously injured, possibly resulting in a hefty hospital bill, followed by a long recovery period. Here are some stats to keep in mind when discussing at home care with your family and loved ones:
- According to the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons, 90% of hip fractures occur as the result of a fall, and approximately 50% of older adults hospitalized with a hip fracture are unable to return home or live independently again.
- The American Medical Association has reported that more than 60% of prescribed medication in the U.S. is not taken as directed.
- 25% of all hospital and nursing home admissions by seniors (persons 65 years of age or older) each year is due to their failure to take their prescription medications as directed.
- Failure to properly take prescribed medications is the number one reason for hospital readmissions.
According to a study by The New England Journal of Medicine, subscribers of Medical Emergency Response Systems have few hospital admissions and shorter stays after they subscribe, allowing them to live independently longer.