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When should I consider help at home?

Many older people brush aside home care assistance until a crisis hits, and they're left with no other choice, often leaving the family to make arrangements in an emergency.

Key points:

  • Receiving in home support can actually keep you in your home for longer

  • There is nothing wrong with admitting you need help around the home

  • Family and friends should look out for signs of when a older loved one isn't coping at home

Older woman receives help at home from a carer
Accessing in home care services earlier means life at home will be a lot easier and a little support can go a long way. [Source: iStock]

This may mean that needs aren’t thoroughly assessed and decisions have to be made quickly. You might even end up in an aged care facility sooner, even if you weren't quite prepared to move in yet.

Getting some extra help at home to assist with daily tasks doesn’t mean you have to give up your freedom and can’t live an independent or active life. 

While many older people view accepting help at home as a loss of independence, it is actually the opposite! Getting assistance around your home is more likely to keep you safe and happy at home and living independently for longer.

Support in your home

Industry experts regularly recommend older people look into the possibility of future home care options early, as it is better to be prepared for any unexpected issues that may arise.

It is also a great time to let your family members know what is to come, what your expectations and wishes are for services, and what needs and related supports you may require.

Accessing in home care services earlier also means life at home will be a lot easier. A little support can go a long way towards improving your quality of life.

While you may have an idea of what you think home care is, it can differ from person to person. Your view of home care may actually be as simple as assistance getting groceries from the local shops, while for others home care could mean more hands-on help in the kitchen and with their personal care.

This support could even assist you in maintaining all your hobbies. For example, gardening can be a great love for many older people, but it can also be physically demanding. So having extra assistance with larger jobs such as weeding and pruning can make all the difference and continue your enjoyment of gardening without having to do all the 'heavy' work.

Look for the signs

Requiring home support can happen quite gradually, so you need to keep an eye out for daily tasks you may be struggling with or signs that your older loved one may need an extra hand around the home. 

Subtle changes can include:

  • Simple daily tasks, like doing the laundry or preparing meals, start to feel overwhelming and hard to do

  • Poor personal grooming

  • Living space is becoming messier

  • Forgetfulness around common daily responsibilities, for example, missing meals, medication times and appointments, or forgetting to pay bills

  • Decreased attention to food safety, such as using foods beyond expiry dates

  • Avoiding social events or contact with others

  • Family and friends are providing more home assistance with everyday tasks 

Not all of these things have to be occurring for an older person to realise that they may need extra help. However, it's important to know that there is no shame in admitting you need assistance around the home.

While it can be challenging to pick up on the signs, family and friends should be alert if their older loved one is not sticking to their regular daily patterns or upholding normal habits. For instance, they previously may have been a stickler for a clean home, but now their house has become incredibly messy. This can be an indicator that an older person isn't coping with day to day tasks.

Getting in home support can be the best way to assist your daily life, or the life of an older loved one, and continue your current lifestyle in your own home.

Causes of last minute home care

The above signs should be an encouragement to start looking for support at home options. However, some people may put off home care, leading to more serious reasons for needing home care later on.

You shouldn't wait for a big event to trigger the sudden need for assistance in the home if you can help it.

Some immediate signs that can lead to urgent home care could be:

  • Loss of a driver’s licence

  • A fall due to reduced mobility

  • A hospital stay 

  • A procedure that results in the need for temporary care

  • Older person has a fear of being left alone

  • A decline in general health

  • You are forgetting where you are or how to get back home

  • Family or friends moving away and no one around to help you

These signs can be an indicator of bigger problems that need to be addressed for the health and safety of an older person. If left to escalate, it may result in the older person moving into aged care or requiring more serious help.

When did you realise you needed extra help around the home? Tell us in the comments below.

Related content:

How to have “the home care talk” with your parents
What is a Home Care Package (HCP)?
How short-term restorative care can get you back on track

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