What Are the Signs My Loved One Needs In-Home Care?

The vast majority of adults (77%) want to “age in place” in their own homes and neighborhoods where they feel comfortable, according to a recent AARP® Home and Community Preferences Survey. It also found that about two-thirds of respondents would prefer a combination of family caregivers and paid caregivers.

Not only can in-home care services be a cost-effective solution, but they also meet your loved one’s emotional desire for familiarity. Yet, you may be wondering …

  • “How do I know when my parents are no longer functioning safely at home?”
  • “What signs, symptoms or behaviors should I look for?
  • “When is the right time to hire in-home care?”
  • “What type of home care services does my loved one need?”
  • “Are there good home health care agencies near me?”

We get it. There isn’t always an obvious answer. Although it’s fairly clear-cut when a family member or friend needs Skilled Care at home, it can be more difficult to identify if Companion Care, Personal Care or Alzheimer’s and Memory Care are needed at home.

Download our list of questions to help determine if home care can help.

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Questions to Determine if Home Care Can Help

The following practical questions can help determine if it’s time to find in-home care for your mom, dad, grandparents, spouse, child or other loved one. You might even need support for yourself like Short-Term Transitional Care after a hospital stay.

  1. If the phone rings, do they hear it and answer it in a safe and timely manner?
  2. Can they hear the other person on the phone and have a conversation?
  3. Do they store food properly and throw it away when it’s no longer safe to eat?
  4. Do they clean up after meals? Wash dishes, put them away, wipe down surfaces?
  5. Do they keep their kitchen, living room, bedroom and bathroom clean?
  6. Do they see to it that the lawn is mowed, yard is tended to and sidewalk and driveway are shoveled, if needed?
  7. Are they doing their own laundry? Carrying it safely into the laundry room, transferring it from washer and dryer, folding it and putting it away?
  8. Do they stay on top of their finances such as paying mortgage or rent, utilities and other bills?
  9. Do they drive safely and with confidence? To the bank, store, place of worship or to friends’ and relatives’ homes?
  10. Do they shop for their own groceries, selecting and paying for healthy foods and transferring the groceries from store and car to kitchen?
  11. Are they attending social and family activities, like book club, bridge club, going to restaurants, religious services, reunions, birthday parties, etc.?
  12. Do they talk and socialize with friends, neighbors or relatives regularly?
  13. Are they able to do the activities they enjoy on their own, such as crafts, light gardening, puzzles, etc.?
  14. Are they able to take care of any pets they have, taking them for walks or cleaning litter boxes and cages?

If you answered NO or SOMETIMES to any of the above questions, then your loved one might benefit from Companion Care. The more often you responded NO or SOMETIMES, the more likely it is they need support.

Two Peas in a Pod: Jayne and Doris

Jayne and Doris built a special bond over shared interests like gardening and bird watching.

The next group of questions can provide additional insight into potential needs your family member or friend may have:

  1. When your loved one wakes up, can they get out of bed easily?
  2. Can they walk from the bedroom or bathroom to the kitchen without risk of falling?
  3. Can they get into the shower or bathtub safely?
  4. Do they bathe regularly and completely?
  5. Do they groom themselves and maintain good overall hygiene? Brush teeth, shave, comb hair, trim nails, etc.?
  6. Do they dress in clean clothes and put dirty clothes in the laundry?
  7. Do they prepare and eat regular nutritious meals, following any special dietary requirements?
  8. Do they take the right prescription dosages at the right time?
  9. Can they manage any illness needs (e.g., testing blood sugar) safely and effectively?
  10. If they require medical equipment (e.g., oxygen), can they manage it on their own?
  11. Do they make it to their medical appointments and understand their plan of care?
  12. Do they get at least 30 minutes of exercise that’s safe for them every day?

If you answered NO or SOMETIMES to any of the above questions, then your loved one might benefit from Personal Care. The more often you responded NO or SOMETIMES, the more likely it is they need help at home.

Starting the Day with a Smile: Ann and Tony

Ann provided much more than the personal care Tony needed – she impacted the whole family with her warm, patient and respectful approach to care.

If you have concerns about your loved one’s memory, this set of supplementary questions addresses behaviors related to Alzheimer’s disease or some other type of dementia:

  1. Does your loved one know the current month, season and other date-related reference points?
  2. Do they usually know where they are? Their specific location, city, state, etc.?
  3. Do they recognize family members and long-time friends? Do they understand the relationship between other people and themselves?
  4. Do they put their belongings in a logical location most of the time? Keys on the rack, mail on the table, food in the refrigerator, etc.?
  5. Do they often forget how to use common objects? Even if they can’t quickly recall the word “hammer” do they still know its purpose?
  6. Do they remember to take their medication at the right time and in the right dose? Do they know why they take each of their medications?
  7. Do they remember to eat, go to the bathroom, turn on lamps or complete other basic everyday functions?
  8. Are they coherent and do they have a good sense of awareness after the sun goes down in the evening?
  9. Is their temperament generally consistent with who they’ve always been?

If you’ve answered NO or SOMETIMES to questions in this section, your loved one may benefit from specially trained caregivers or nurses who know how to support those with memory challenges, dementia or Alzheimer’s disease.

Alzheimer's and Parkinson's Care: Tina, Gary and Judy

Tina's compassionate care for husband and wife clients gave their daughter peace of mind during difficult life changes.

As your family member’s physical or mental health changes, they may need Skilled Care* in their home. Perhaps an injury or surgery has temporarily affected their ability to function safely on their own. Here are some things to think about when you’re wondering if your loved one needs in-home Skilled Nursing services or Transitional Care – for this list we’re looking for YES or SOMETIMES:

  1. Has your loved one’s doctor, nurse practitioner, surgeon or other healthcare professional suggested or stated that in-home Skilled Care is needed?
  2. Do you or your loved one need in-home infusions? (This is medication provided through an IV, such as antibiotics, nutrition, pain management, chemotherapy or other drugs.)
  3. Does your family member struggle to correctly use at-home medical devices or equipment? This could include things like oxygen concentrators, feeding tubes or glucometers.
  4. Do they need help with catheter or ostomy maintenance?
  5. Does your loved one have wounds that require professional care to keep them properly covered and need to be observed for healing progress?
  6. Did/Will your family member (of any age, including babies and children) undergo surgery that requires nursing support or transitional care upon leaving the hospital?

If you answered YES or SOMETIMES to any of the above questions, then your loved one might benefit from Skilled Care*. The more often you responded YES or SOMETIMES, the more likely it is they need advanced support at home.

Bringing Skilled Care Home: Jill and Theresa

Theresa not only receives much needed infusions in the comfort of her home, but she also formed a special bond with Jill that makes her feel truly cared for as a person.

Take the Next Step

We know it can be difficult to determine if your loved one needs help at home, as well as what type of care would best meet their unique needs. We hope these questions have provided a road map to help you determine if your family member is ready for in-home support.

If you would like to learn more about in-home care, please send us a message, reach out to your nearest BrightStar® Home Care agency or return to the beginning of our online Home Care Guide.

*Skilled nursing and medical service availability varies by location. Call 866-618-7827 for a full list of services or to schedule a free in-home assessment.