Considering Elder Care: Is My Loved One Ready?

April 14, 2014

As our loved ones age, it can be difficult to know when to begin considering elder care options. Not only is this an emotional decision for family members, it can often prove a practical burden as well. As children and grandchildren, we live our own lives. And our daily concerns can make it hard to monitor our older loved ones as they deal with their own.

But many older Pennsylvanians’ lives are drastically improved by on-call health services, structured nutrition programs, and the sense of community that nursing homes and assisted living facilities can offer. Making the right choice for your loved one is essential, both for their well-being and your own. So how do you know when it’s time?

In this guide, we’ll cover the indicators that elder care professionals have agreed upon as those that should start you thinking about care options for your elderly loved one. The following signs are big and obvious, red flags, but many smaller signs can present themselves, too. We’ll deal with those in a coming article.

Is My Loved One Ready For Elder Care?

Accidents Like Slip, Trip, And Fall

As people age, their vision and mobility decrease, making them especially susceptible to slips, trips, falls, and other accidents. According to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, “each year, one in every three adults age 65 and older falls.” And while some falls are minor, causing few or no injuries, accidents can also lead to hip fractures and head trauma. If your elderly loved one has fallen recently, don’t panic. After all, we all have accidents from time to time. But a pattern of such accidents can be cause for concern.

Chronic Health Conditions

Many older Pennsylvanians suffer from chronic health problems, like chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and congestive heart failure. These conditions are “progressive” because they tend to worsen with age. Was your loved one recently diagnosed with a chronic medical condition? The presence of a serious health problem generally means that an elder will need increasing care in the years to come, like the dedicated medical services offered by nursing homes and many assisted living facilities.

If you suspect that your loved one is afflicted by a serious medical condition, seek treatment immediately.

Difficulty Handling The Activities Of Daily Living

Elder care professionals often refer to ADLs and IADLs, the basic tasks involved in taking care of oneself.

For most of us, the activities of daily living are the most fundamental aspects of existence. We learn them during childhood, and they carry us through our lives as individuals. But as we age, ADLs can become more difficult and, for some, impossible to perform.

  • Feeding oneself
  • Toileting
  • Clothing oneself
  • Grooming
  • Bathing
  • Walking
  • Situations of transfer, like moving from a bed to a wheelchair

Instrumental Activities Of Daily Living (IADL)

Instrumental activities of daily living are more complicated than the basic tasks we saw above. They often require more cognitive input than physical.

  • Handling personal finances
  • Transportation, either driving oneself or navigating public transit
  • Shopping
  • Making food
  • Housework and home maintenance

If you’ve noticed that your loved one is having trouble with any of these tasks, many doctors and elder care professionals offer evaluations, called “functional assessments,” that may help to indicate which medical issues should be made a focus of attention, and whether your loved one would benefit from increased support.

Recovery From Injury Or Illness

The way our bodies heal can tell us a lot. As the human body ages, it becomes less adept at dealing with trauma, from minor cuts and abrasions to major medical conditions. If your elderly loved one was injured, how was their recovery? Did it last longer than normal?

In addition, the way we handle our injuries can be important, providing valuable clues to our mental state and mood. Was your loved one resistant to treatment? Did an easy-to-treat cold or flu become something more serious?

Is An Elder Care Facility Right For Your Loved One?

Nursing homes and assisted living facilities offer solutions to many of the common elder problems we discussed above. They present their own risks, too, and we’ll be covering those in detail in the coming weeks.

In our next article, we’ll begin the search for the right elder-care facility for your loved one by taking a look at nursing homes. For more information, read our “Choosing A Nursing Home In Philadelphia: Preventing Elder Abuse And Neglect.”

PA Services For Elders Seeking To Maintain Independence

For many older Pennsylvanians, maintaining independence is extremely important.  The state of Pennsylvania offers a wide range of services for elders who would like to remain in their homes and continue relationships with their community. PA’s Department of Aging has set up 52 Agencies on Aging across the state that offer guidance and counseling. Many Agencies also offer necessary services, including home health care, housekeeping, shopping assistance, transportation, and assistance with day-to-day tasks like dressing, eating, grooming, and toileting. To find an Agency on Aging near you, visit the Pennsylvania Department of Aging’s Area Agencies on Aging Map.

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Haberman Law is dedicated to representing the rights of victims of nursing home abuse and neglect.

Many of us turn to nursing homes, assisted living facilities, and group homes to provide care for our elderly loved ones.

If you suspect that a loved one was the victim of abuse or neglect in a nursing home, assisted living facility, or group home, contact us.

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