Does my loved one require home care?

Sometimes recognising that someone is no longer able to take care of themselves at home can be tricky. It is possible that people will not admit they need help, because they are too proud and do not want to lose their independence. If your loved one does not want to accept that they need assistance there are some common signs that you can look for.

Around the house:

  • small scratches or damage on the car that cannot be explained
  • spoiled food being left around
  • clutter
  • dusty house
  • piled laundry
  • missed appointments
  • mail that has been left unopened
  • bills not being paid.

Personal

  • a decline in personal hygiene
  • strong urine smell
  • weight loss
  • poor diet
  • strange bruises
  • forgetting medication or going over the dosage

Mental or physical

  • a change in their moods
  • loss of interest in hobbies
  • forgetting things
  • confusion
  • difficulty walking
  • loss of balance
  • difficulty getting out of a chair

In the past a nursing home or hospice was the next logical step for people unable to look after themselves at home. We now recognise that people are happier, healthier and more likely to thrive in their own home. Sometimes even a small amount of assistance at home can have a huge impact on a person’s situation. There are many options available to assist a person who is declining or becoming depressed while living in their own home.

For example carers could visit on regular basis to assist with personal hygiene, food preparation, mobility etc. There may be a need for some home such as a stair lift, rails on the outside doors and bathroom and possibly a ramp if access to the property is steep and unsteady. The home care recipient may also be assisted by getting a cleaner for the house and someone to tend the garden.

What is the role of the family home carer?

Being a family home carer is not always an easy task. In most likelihood, you would not only have a new responsibility above and beyond an already busy life, but you could also be unprepared for the task. Your new role could involve physical lifting, continence management, using transfer aids, pain management, mental stimulation, or the management of someone in fast declining health.

The fact is becoming a family home carer is a very real possibility for many Australians. We are experiencing increased life expectancy, increased chronic illness, hospital stays are becoming shorter and more older Australians opting to remain in their own homes. In effect, more active family members would have to double up as a carer. You may have to take care of your aging parent, a disabled partner or a mentally or physically challenged child. In every specific situation, one aspect is common. You are tendering love, kindness and care to your loved one, something that we would do normally anyway.

Most family carers begin their care giving untrained and unfamiliar with what has to be done. As you adapt to your new responsibilities you will become an expert. However, there are things to consider as you undertake your role.

Things to consider for your role as family carer:

Learning – Learning is easy given the resources available today. However, what you need to learn is not just how to care for your loved one. You must find out everything about the family member’s illness or condition. The more you learn about the situation, it is better for both of you.

Consult Other Carers– Bonding with other carers, offering them support and seeking support can be rewarding. It is more like sharing best practices and discussing experiences to get better at the task. It also helps to know people who are in a similar situation as you.

Go By Your Instincts– There may be several recommendations by the doctor and while you must adhere to those, you have the luxury to let your loved one do things that you know are good for him or her.

Avoid Over Dependence – The more independent the care seeker is, the better it is for both of you. Allow them to do some minor tasks and let them be on their own to avoid over dependence on your assistance, time and care.

Do Not Stretch Yourself – Whether it is time, labour or any other factor, know your limits and share it with other family members or outside help

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