If you think your mother is struggling to maintain her independence, talking with her about it on the phone isn’t enough. She’ll probably insist everything is fine. Plan a visit to see her circumstances for yourself.
When you visit, consider: Is she well groomed? Is her home neat and clean? Is she well-nourished? Does she get around okay? Does she see friends, shop, go to doctors’ appointments?
If the answer is “yes” to most of these questions, she may not need assistance, but if you notice subtle changes—she’s lost weight, the bed’s unmade, clothes and trash have piled up—it’s probably time to open a discussion about getting some assistance.
Friends and family members may pick up extra items at the grocery, take her trash out or drive her to doctor appointments. But if food preparation, housekeeping, laundry and other tasks of daily living have become overwhelming, she would probably benefit from the services of a private homecare agency.
Here are some tips for talking with your loved one:
- Try asking Mom what things she enjoys doing and if she’s still able to do them? Are daily chores consuming too much of her time and effort?
- Also, ask what she’d rather not do anymore. Would it be better if someone else did the laundry or cooked? Would it help if someone else organized her medications? Does she need assistance bathing?
- For times when family members are not available, would she consider using private homecare, just once or twice a week?
Many older adults feel anxious about having people come to their homes. It can help to let your mom know homecare agencies like Life Care at Home conduct background checks on employees. They also train homecare workers in dementia care at the start of employment and annually.
If your mom says no to homecare, ask her to give it some more thought. You both can talk with someone at an agency to learn more. There’s no obligation.
Kathy Semrow R.N, director of Life Care at Home, a not-for-profit provider of private in-home personal care, shares her 42 years of nursing experience.