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When is the Right Time for Home Care?

A senior women with her caregiver. Certified health aides provide mobility assistance to seniors with Parkinson's disease.

In life, timing is everything, and senior home care is no exception. When older adults choose to age in place, it’s natural for family members to have concerns. The aging process brings physical and mental changes that can interfere with an independent lifestyle. Adding a caregiver provides needed support in the home, but when is the right time to hire one? The simple answer is that no two people and their lives are alike, so they can differ. But experts in aging agree there are signs and symptoms to watch for that can guide your decision-making. The dual priorities are always quality of life and safety in the home.

The activities of daily living (ADLs) are significant considerations in the timing of hiring home care services. They range from bathing and dressing to cooking, housekeeping, and paying bills. If your loved one is falling behind on any of these, especially in a way that is out of character, it’s wise to consider a certified caregiver or care manager. In many families, children and relatives provide support, but older adults may be reluctant to ask for help. Many find it easier to ask a respite caregiver for a hand, and it helps safely preserve independence.

A Geriatric manager having discussion with senior couple about home care management.5 Signs a Senior Adult Needs a Caregiver

  • Changes in Personal Grooming Habits and Appearance
  • Unsteadiness or Difficulty Walking
  • Loss of Interest in Cooking or Buying Groceries
  • Unsafe Driving / Time to Give Up the Car Keys
  • Falling Behind in Paying Bills


How to Have a Talk About a Caregiver

An older adult’s pride and a longstanding sense of independence can make the topic of needing care in the home a sensitive discussion. Experts advise that you begin by talking about what you’ve seen in hopes they will agree and acknowledge the situation. If yes, you can offer to help and ask about what they may see as possible solutions. On the other hand, if they disagree, press on a bit further, citing examples of things you’ve seen that concern you. You might also try bringing up home care and explaining that it would help you too, by reducing stress levels. The hope is you can present it as a win-win situation.

If you’ve tried the conversation a couple of times and gotten nowhere, consider finding a respected person who can serve as an ally. For example, attending a doctor’s appointment and bringing up what you’ve noticed. Physicians want their senior patients to age safely at home and can join you in saying that accepting help is a solution. If you have access to counselors or social workers through a hospital after an illness or other life event, they also may reinforce what you’ve suggested about a caregiver. It may take time and several tries, but be patient, try different strategies and avoid being argumentative.

Other Signs It’s Time for Home Care

Home health care worker and an elderly couple playing game.Remaining socially active is essential for people of any age and takes on particular importance for seniors. One of the lessons learned during the coronavirus pandemic was the outsized effect of social isolation on older adults. Having an in-home caregiver increases socialization and adds a smiling face your loved one can count on. Gradual weight loss is something else to keep an eye out for and can be a sign of lost interest in eating. It can be caused by diminished senses of taste and smell, making food less appealing or causing less interest in cooking. A caregiver can cook and encourage healthy, consistent eating.

Mood changes also affect a senior’s quality of life and can indicate living alone is becoming a challenge. Older adults lose friends at a faster rate and cope with the effects of aging every day, so keeping their spirits up is essential. In-home care and the emotional presence and support it provides can help lift spirits. It goes without saying that anyone with memory issues is an immediate candidate for hiring a home care company, perhaps around the clock. Confusion and forgetting can cause safety concerns along with the possibility of becoming malnourished and having difficulties with money and all areas of self-care.

Ready to Talk Things Through with Us?

Wherever your loved one is in their care journey, we’re ready to help. A call to Alvita Care to discuss your needs and hear more about our services can answer many questions. We work with hundreds of older adults and their families daily in New York and New Jersey. We’re pleased to share the benefit of our experience and make an in-home visit to make NYC senior home care recommendations. We realize it’s a big step, and our people understand your situation and concerns.