Making the decision of how another person lives is one that falls on the shoulders of many people who look after their elderly family members. The goal in caring for your loved ones is to restore and maintain the happy, healthy, and independent life that they once had. However, over time, changes in behavior may begin to suggest that your loved one’s physical or mental abilities are slowing down at a rate that you cannot keep up with, leaving you with the difficult decision of how to best care for them.
Old age does not have to mark a life sentence to an external care facility. Instead, aging can happen in the comfort of one’s home with the help of professional care services catered to their needs. These services include home nursing, or care companions that can help improve the quality of life of your loved ones.
Firstly, it is important for you to recognize the signs and assess when additional care needs to be sought. Observe if your loved one’s behavioral changes align with any of the following red flags that signal a need for additional assistance at home.
1. Inability to perform Activities of Daily Living
Understanding the activities of daily living (ADLs) will enable you to assess how well your loved one can provide self-care. ADLs are the common routine tasks a person performs daily.
The Ministry of Health organizes ADLs into six categories:
- Washing: Ability to bath, shower, or do a sponge/bed bath.
- Dressing: Ability to put on, take off, secure and unfasten one’s garments.
- Feeding: Ability to feed oneself food after it has been prepared.
- Toileting: Ability to use the toilet or manage bowel and bladder function through the use of protective undergarments such as diapers or surgical appliances if appropriate.
- Walking or moving around: Ability to move indoors from one room to another on level surfaces.
- Transferring: Ability tomove from a bed to an upright chair or wheelchair, and vice versa.
Physical and mental challenges that come with age, or certain medical conditions may cause your loved one to encounter difficulty performing one or more of these activities. When this occurs, additional assistance for ADLs may be required.
ADL assessments can be done by medical professionals or through online tools, such as the Katz Index of Independence in Activities of Daily Living.
2. Trips and Falls
Aging hinders mobility due to increased muscle weakness and reduced vision and balance, causing the elderly to be more susceptible to falls. According to Health Promotion Board Singapore, about one-third of elderly Singaporeans aged 60 and above have recurring falls.
Besides age, those with medical conditions such as diabetes may experience dizziness and weakness if their blood sugar levels are uncontrolled, resulting in them being more susceptible to falls.
For seniors, seemingly harmless falls may result in serious injuries such as fractures or head trauma.
Take heed if it has become a common occurrence for your loved one to have close-calls with trips and falls.
3. Loneliness and Social Isolation
When mobility becomes limited and other daily functions become challenging, your loved one may become socially isolated and withdraw from their past interests and relationships. Social contact is a fundamental aspect of human existence. Elderly people who are socially isolated and lonely may be at greater risk of early death.
If you notice changes in your loved one’s social habits, such as reduced interaction with family and friends,you may want to consider spending more time with your loved one or engaging a Care Companion to engage your loved one in activities.
4. Slow Recovery from Illness or Injury
Your body’s defense system (immunity) will get weaker with age. Everyday illnesses that seem harmless to most people can quickly escalate into serious illnesses for the elderly that make recovery difficult due to their weakened immune systems.
For example, if your loved one were to catch a cold, it could quickly turn into pneumonia, an infection of the lungs. People with chronic diseases such as diabetes, heart disease, and respiratory conditions are at higher risk of getting pneumonia.
Seek medical advice on preventive measures such as getting vaccinated. Besides getting a vaccine, one can lower the risk of getting bacteria pneumonia by regular handwashing, having a well-balanced diet with lots of fruits and vegetables, exercising and getting sufficient sleep. If your loved one struggles to maintain a lifestyle with healthy eating habits, good hygiene practices and daily exercise, a caregiver can provide daily assistance in these areas.
Once you notice the signs which suggest that your loved one may require more attention and caregiving, consult a medical professional. If you have limited family support to care for your loved one, do begin research on caregiving options that best suit your loved one’s lifestyle and needs.
CaregiverAsia has qualified caregivers offering a wide range of services including the assistance with activities of daily living.. Should your loved one require medical escort service to and from medical appointments, or home nursing service, visit our website or call +65 6258 6683 to book these services.
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