- American Health Care Associationwww.ahcancal.org
- Medicare www.medicare.gov
- National Association for Home Care and Hospice www.nahc.org
- Caregiving – Insights, Information, Inspirations www.caregiving.com
- National Council on Disability www.ncd.gov
- Everyday Health – Online Health Informationwww.everydayhealth.com
- MedicineNet – Health and Medical Information Produced by Doctors www.medicinenet.com
- Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) www.cms.gov
- Senior Health Overview www.drugwatch.com/seniors/
- Hip Replacement Information www.drugwatch.com/hip-replacement/
- Nursing Home Abuse www.drugwatch.com/nursing-home-abuse/
Frequently Asked Questions
I’m worried my loved one is not safe at home. What should I do?
Perhaps you’ve noticed that your loved one’s home has become much messier than it used to be, or that he or she is wearing stained, dirty clothes. Maybe it’s clear that your loved one hasn’t had a bath for a while. Or when you open the refrigerator, there is hardly any food inside. Or you may be worried sick about a recent fall or seeing a pan burning on the stove.
It can be frightening and painful to see a loved one who is losing the ability to care for him- or herself. Sometimes, declines can happen gradually. Or a sudden change in health, recent fall, depression, or loss of a key local support can trigger difficulty. Regardless of the reason, if you’re worried about safety or the condition of the home, it’s important to bring it up with your loved one to see what can be done.
Tips on Talking to Your Loved One
- Try to find the real reasons behind resistance. A seemingly resistant loved one could be frightened that he or she is no longer able to do tasks that were formerly so easy, or chronic untreated pain may be making it difficult. It might be more comfortable to deny it and minimize problems. Perhaps he or she is grieving the loss of a loved one, or frustrated at not being able to connect with friends. If your loved one has a hard time getting out and is losing support, he or she is also at risk for depression.
- Express your concerns as your own, without accusing. A loved one might be more open to your honest expressions of concern. For example, instead of saying “It’s clear you can’t take care of yourself anymore. Something needs to be done,” try “I’ve really been worried about you. It hurts me to think that you might not be getting everything you need. What do you think we should do?”
- Respect your loved one’s autonomy and involve him or her in decisions. Unless your loved one is incapacitated, the final decision about care is up to him or her. You can help by offering suggestions and ideas. For example, what home care services might bridge the gap? If you’re worried that home care might not be enough, what other options are available? You can frame it as something to try temporarily instead of trying to impose a permanent solution.
- Enlist other help. Does your loved one know others who have used home care services, or have had to move? Talking to others who have had positive experiences can sometimes help remove fear of the unknown. You may want to consider having a meeting with your loved one’s doctor or hire a geriatric care manager. Sometimes hearing feedback from an unbiased third party can help a loved one realize that things need to change.
If Your Loved One is Becoming Incapable of Making Decisions
Are you worried that your loved one is putting him or herself in danger? Someone with worsening memory problems, for example, may forget to turn the gas off or wander outside and get lost. This may be a concern with diseases such as later stage Alzheimer’s disease or other dementias, Parkinson’s disease, or stroke.
If you have the opportunity, its best to bring this up before your loved one has reached the level of incapacity, although it’s a hard conversation to have. If your loved one has designated someone with durable power of attorney in case of incapacity, then that person can make decisions if your loved one is no longer able to. If not, then you may need to petition for guardianship or conservatorship. You may want to consult an advocacy group and an elder law attorney to best understand your options.