Many older Australians want to enjoy the comfort and familiarity of their own home while maintaining their independence and quality of life.
But as we get older, certain tasks become increasingly difficult and it can get harder and harder for older people and their families to cope.
The decision on when a loved one may need some extra help at home from a nurse or other healthcare professional can be a difficult and sensitive one but one that more and more Australians are likely to have to make as our population continues to age.
However it’s not always easy to know when the time is right to get assistance so here are a few of the signs you should you look for when considering whether an older person you know needs the services of a nurse or other healthcare professional:
Signs to look out for:
A decline in personal hygiene – stained or creased clothes, unkempt hair, an unpleasant body odour or the smell of urine on clothes or bed sheets all could be signs that some extra care is required.
Poor housekeeping – dirty dishes stacked up, newspapers left in piles, un-vacuumed or unwashed floors, built-up dust on tables or benches and general clutter.
Poor nutrition – a lack of fresh food in the house or spoiled food in the fridge, difficulty in preparing food such as struggling to cut meat or vegetables or burns caused while cooking all may indicate that the person in question is struggling to care for themselves.
Poor balance and declining mobility – general unsteadiness or shuffling of feet when walking, a recent history of falls or near misses where somebody has been on hand to catch your older friend or family member before they fell are clear warning signs.
A loss of social contacts – the person you care for doesn’t do the things they used to such as play cards, have a punt on the races, go to social clubs, lunches or the theatre. This could be a sign of a lack of confidence in their ability to cope socially or even depression.
Forgetting to take medication – unopened pill boxes and bottles and unfilled prescriptions could be signs that your loved one is missing out on taking some or all of their prescribed medicine.
Unpaid bills and fines – Overdue bill notices or unopened bills, overdrawn bank accounts, disconnected utilities and calls from creditors could be signs things are spiralling out of control.
Caring for the Caregiver:
But it’s not just the person needing care that needs to be taken into consideration. If you are the caregiver there are things you should look for that indicate you may need some extra help.
- Juggling work or other family commitments with providing care
- Suffering from a lack of sleep or general exhaustion
- Missing your own medical appointments
- Not staying in bed or getting appropriate rest when ill
- Missing out on social events or activities
If you recognize or can identify with any of the above signs then it may be time to get someone in to take some pressure off you as the caregiver.
Remember you are of no use to the person you care for if you are not looking after yourself.
Taking the next step
Whether you are worried about someone you care for who lives alone or feeling the strain of providing care, a conversation with someone who understands your situation and needs can be a great starting point.
If you would like to find out more about how we can help you or your family, call 1300 33 11 03 and one of our discreet and friendly consultants will be happy to discuss your individual circumstances.
Or alternatively email firstname.lastname@example.org. It’s amazing the difference a little help can make to your peace of mind.