As we enter the holiday season, families will have the opportunity to spend concentrated time visiting aging loved ones. While of course providing the backdrop for quality time together, the holidays also are the prime time to assess how seniors are doing and whether there might be care needs that should be uncovered and addressed.
Merrily Orsini, home care marketing expert for corecubed, outlines five key factors to consider while enjoying the holidays with older adults:
- The state of the home. When you first arrive at the senior’s home, pay attention to such things as whether the lawn is well maintained, the front door is clean, and screens are in good order or in need of repair. As you go into the home, look at overall cleanliness and any indications of hoarding. There’s a lot of information to glean about how functional someone is by observing the living environment. Oftentimes, seniors are reluctant to discuss these issues due to embarrassment and the desire to maintain their independence, so visual clues such as these are invaluable.
- The physical state of the person. Is the senior clean, or is her appearance unkempt? Is her clothing appropriate for the season? Do a quick rundown of how the person looks and if it appears she is taking care of her basic personal hygiene needs.
- The mental state of the person. This can be harder to detect, as often the senior and/or the senior’s partner will want to hide concerns, such as dementia, from the family. Try to determine the senior’s level of functioning: does she know what year it is, is she responding appropriately to conversations, does she know who all of the other family members are? Ask what she had for breakfast, and what activities she’s been doing.
- The loneliness quotient. Loneliness is a common issue for older adults. Ask the senior how many times lately she’s felt lonely or on the outside of a group or in need of companionship. Is she keeping up with friends either in person or via phone?
- The support system. What does the senior’s support system look like? Find out how she gets to the grocery store, how she brings the groceries in, how she handles her banking, who maintains home repairs, and if she’s regularly and proactively receiving medical and dental care.
Deficiencies in any of these areas can indicate the need for help and the possibility that it’s time to look into home care options. Yet keep in mind that just because care is needed doesn’t mean the person will welcome or accept that care. The first step is recognizing the care need, and then to begin working on a plan.
To learn more about the red flags that can indicate a care need, listen to the full podcast here, or by searching for “Help Choose Home” on iTunes, Google, or on any device at https://player.fm/series/help-choose-home.
The Help Choose Home podcast series is a joint effort between the National Association for Home Care and Hospice (NAHC), Axxess, and corecubed. The vision is to provide information and resources on professional home care options to families and their loved ones. Podcasts are hosted by Merrily Orsini, president and CEO of corecubed, an award-winning home care marketing firm.