Today, nearly 40 million Americans serve as family caregivers for an aging or ailing parent.
It’s not uncommon for an aging loved one to be in denial over their need for assistance because they don’t want to lose their independence. But, asking for help is often the first step to sustaining that freedom.
While it’s not easy to come to terms with the fact that your loved one is no longer able to care for themselves, as a family caregiver, you can take comfort in knowing they’re receiving assistance with daily activities.
If you’re wondering whether it’s time to assign a family caregiver for an aging loved one, here are signs to look out for when making your decision.
1. Trouble Performing Daily Tasks
As your loved one ages, he or she may have a hard time keeping up with daily tasks at home. While it’s human nature to have forgetful tendencies every so often, reoccurring warning signs should not be ignored.
The following signs may indicate your loved one needs additional assistance with daily activities, such as cooking, cleaning and more:
- Difficulty managing medications.
- Heaps of laundry.
- Missed doctor’s appointments and check-ups.
- Spoiled and/or expired foods in the fridge.
- Stacks of unopened mail, bills or unread newspapers.
- Missed phone calls or unheard voicemails.
- Unwashed dishes in the sink.
Designating a family caregiver to help with these activities can give you and your family peace of mind knowing that even the most routine tasks are accounted for.
2. Lack of Mobility
Mobility is fundamental to active aging. However, as seniors age, it becomes increasingly difficult for them to maintain the same strength they once had.
These signs may indicate that your loved one’s mobility is deteriorating:
- Accidents within the home, including falls, trips and slips.
- Difficulty walking up and down stairs.
- Inability to stand for long periods of time to complete simple tasks, such as showering.
- Lack of coordination and balance.
In addition to these issues, safety hazards in the home can be extremely dangerous to aging seniors. Staircases, bathtubs, uneven flooring or rugs, and clutter can increase the risk of injuries in the home. A family caregiver can provide mobility assistance to reduce in-home health risks.
3. Inability to Communicate
As humans, our ability to communicate directly impacts how we conduct our day-to-day lives. It’s nearly impossible for caregivers to diagnose potential health risks without verbal cues from a loved one, which in turn, cause illnesses or injuries to go undiagnosed.
If your loved one is having difficultly describing their thoughts, they may be at risk for living in silent discomfort. Watch out for these signs when interacting with your loved one:
- Difficulty participating in group conversations.
- Inability to finish complete thoughts.
- Shortness of breath when speaking for an extended period of time.
Communication is key to maintaining a comfortable life. By designating a family caregiver, you can alleviate the risk of underlying health issues.
4. Changes in Their Physical and Emotional Health
Seniors are encouraged to live a healthy aging lifestyle by staying active and keeping up with their regular routine. To keep seniors active— both physically, social and mentally— encourage them to participate in light, low-impact exercise, social events and brain exercises.
However, as seniors age, they may feel less inclined to stay mobile and social, which can lead to social isolation and a poor overall well-being.
If you’re noticing changes in your loved one’s emotional, physical or mental health, it may be time to designate a family caregiver. Changes to take note of include:
- Loneliness or depression from lack of social interaction.
- Moodiness, anger or frustration due to physical limitations.
- Weight loss from a change in eating habits due to inability to prepare meals.
- Weight gain due to lack of mobility or exercise.
Interacting with your loved one on a regular basis can be vital to their emotional, mental and physical health. Providing a family caregiver can give them the confidence they need to lead a well-balanced lifestyle.
Get Access to Resources for First-Time Family Caregivers
If you think it’s time to designate a family caregiver for your aging loved one, we encourage you to download our resource, The Comprehensive Guide for First-Time Family Caregivers. This guide is designed to provide family caregivers with the necessary resources they need to deliver the highest quality of comfort and care for a loved one.