When is it time to say 'no' to your loved one living at home?

05 February

Wetalk with many concerned daughters, and sons with elderly parents who are asking themselves this question, ‘Can my elderly parent live alone?’ usually following diagnoses of a health condition, an event such as a fall or accident at home, and especially if their elderly parent has been left alone following the loss of their significant other. Home care services often are not the first option that springs to mind.

Of course your elderly parent can live alone, and in most cases, they want to continue living in their home. Even if your parent has complex care needs, specialist equipment is required, or they have dementia, it is still possible for them to stay within the comfort of their own home and community.

In fact, it is better for their sense of wellbeing to stay at home in familiar surroundings. If your parent has dementia then home is certainly the best place, full of memory triggers and now there are many devices and technology that can be used alongside your home care service provider, meaning that you can still have peace of mind that your parent will be safe, or at least there will be an alert system in place and help at hand if they go wandering, or have a fall.

A visiting care service also provides companionship and a smiling face which can make a big difference to your parent when living alone. Although you will catch up on the news with your parent with regular phone calls and visits, if you live far away and have kids, and a demanding career then your visits might not be too often. Even phone calls can get difficult when your parent might not be able to hear as well – although you can get telephones especially for people who are hard of hearing so that you can still have a catch up on the phone.

Your elderly parent will be fine living on their own, so long as they don’t feel isolated. A mix of visiting care and social activities can help a great deal, local coffee mornings, day centres, or even the local pub. If your parent has mobility issues, or is particularly frail and you are worried about them getting about on their own then a home care provider can help by accompanying your parent, they can also help with attending medical appointments.

Another concern can be medication, is your parent taking their medications? Also eating and drinking; is your parent getting the right nutrition and hydration? Often we find that those with poor nutrition and hydration are due to mobility issues, or wellbeing. Many of our customers will have a morning visit, then a lunch visit, followed by an evening one; that could be just 3 hours a day. The rest of the day can be totally to themselves if that’s what your parent prefers, many people are actually very happy just pottering about on their own, doing their own thing.

If your parent is currently living alone, and without home help, here are some signs to look out for, indicating that you may need to chat with them about getting a visiting home care service to help them out a little bit:

Mobility – if your parent is not so steady on their feet and at risk of a fall, a home care worker will help to keep the home safe, free of clutter, and the regular home visits will limit any risks. It also means that daily tasks like getting dressed, undressed, washing, bathing, cooking, cleaning etc. can be more difficult to do, support in these tasks will minimise risk of accidents or injury.

Memory – if memory is a worry, or early stages of dementia is apparent then tasks like cooking can become dangerous, also personal safety like locking the doors, or switching the heating on, or off, keeping warm etc.  A home care worker can ensure that the home is safe, and prepare meals so that there is less risk. You can get technology installed to go alongside the visiting care such as movement sensors, cameras, and timers for electrical devices so that there is no need to remember to switch something on or off.

Long term illness – with a long term illness, no matter how complex there is still the option of staying at home, in fact it is recommended. More complex support can be provided at home to help your parent stay where they love to be. If your parent is at the beginning of a progressive disease then early home help can be taken so that they can become used to, and familiar with the care workers, they will simply increase the support as it is needed.

Sensory impairments – diminishing sight and hearing can present dangers in the home, a home care service will assist alongside your parent letting them get on with what they are able to do, supporting their independence, rather than taking over.

So, before you decide to move your parent into a care home, consider and try the options of staying at home.