Most seniors want to continue living in their own homes, rather than move in with a relative or relocate to an assisted living facility or nursing home. However, many people begin having trouble with everyday activities like shopping, cooking, housekeeping and personal care as they grow older.
Some common complaints or concerns that family members and caregivers might hear include:
- “The stairs are getting so hard to climb.”
- “Since my wife died, I just open a can of soup for dinner.”
- “Doing the laundry wears me out a lot more than it used to.”
- “I don’t feel very comfortable driving to the grocery store anymore.”
While family members and friends may be poised to lend a hand, assisting with a few simple tasks takes time and effort. For many family caregivers, this initial offer quickly grows into providing hours and hours of help each week as a loved one’s needs increase. Fortunately, there are several different services that can take some of this responsibility off your plate, extend a senior’s independence, improve their safety and help them age in place.
Daily Tasks Seniors May Need Help With
You can bring almost any type of assistance needed into an aging loved one’s home. The following list includes some common things elders need a helping hand with and what businesses and organizations can provide those services. While hiring individual services is great for addressing just a few unrelated needs and tends to keep the overall costs down, keep in mind that in-home care rolls several different services into one. This option is especially convenient for seniors who require assistance in a few different areas.
Does your loved one need help with chores like housekeeping and laundry? Hiring a cleaning service can help take these tasks off their plate. The frequency of visits depends on the size of your loved one’s home, the number of people living there and the level of cleanliness they’re looking for. Even requesting a monthly visit for a deep clean can be beneficial, while others may prefer a biweekly or weekly schedule.
Home care companies can also provide light housekeeping services, but remember that an aide’s job description is to provide personal support and supervision, not just vacuum and clean windows.
Countless businesses have adopted additional convenience features like delivery and curb-side services. Of course, countless goods can be ordered online, but grocery stores, drug stores, dry cleaners and many other retail outlets now offer same-day delivery or express pick-up of items that have already been shopped. In some cases, these services can facilitate shopping and even make leaving the house entirely unnecessary. This is great for seniors who tire easily, have limited mobility or no longer drive. If the primary issue with running errands is transportation to and from stores, there are several options for this service as well, including public transportation, taxis, ridesharing services, etc.
Home care agencies also provide companion services that may include transportation to doctor’s appointments, the grocery store and other errands. A hired companion or aide not only provides transportation, but can also help a senior to and from their home, with shopping and with taking notes at appointments as needed. If a client is unable or does not wish to leave their home, then the aide can shop for and bring back needed items on their own.
When a senior is not eating well, it can take a serious toll on their health. While frozen dinners, take-out and meal replacement shakes can serve a purpose in a pinch, these options aren’t ideal sources of nutrition. Meals on Wheels is one of the most well-known food delivery services for seniors. Programs vary slightly from place to place, but generally nutritious meals are delivered to those age 60 and older who have limited mobility and are challenged to provide themselves with adequate nutrition. These meals are usually provided on a sliding scale, depending on a senior’s ability to pay.
There are numerous other prepared meal delivery services available across the country, but nothing beats a home-cooked meal. Many home care agencies provide aides who can plan, shop for and cook meals from scratch. Seniors often enjoy exploring recipes and cooking together. Even if an aide doesn’t visit frequently, he or she can prepare homemade dishes and freeze them for future use.
Managing finances can be tiring and confusing for a person of any age. As a loved one gets older, budgeting and paying bills can become a hassle or even a serious challenge. Debt, excessive spending, and late or unpaid bills can escalate quickly, so it’s crucial to ensure that an aging loved one is comfortable with and capable of managing their money. If not, hiring a financial advisor, geriatric care manager or daily money manager can help keep them in good financial shape. Just make sure the referral comes from a trustworthy source.
Most seniors take at least one daily medication. However, when a regimen becomes too complicated or a loved one begins forgetting to take their meds, it’s crucial that they get help. While there are pill boxes, phone call reminders and other products that can assist in proper medication management, it often requires someone to be present to ensure the reminder was acted on. Home care workers who visit at a set time each day can provide medication reminders in person and note that the correct dosages were taken. In some cases, Medicare will pay for a home health aide to come to a senior’s home to administer medications if they require intermittent skilled nursing care.
Getting around at home with limited mobility can be difficult, if not dangerous, for seniors. Professional caregivers can provide increased supervision and assistance with mobility and transfers, which can reduce the likelihood of falls and other household accidents. Many seniors are actually more active and less anxious when they know they’re being monitored and that help is close by. In fact, home care aides are happy to take walks with clients and participate in activities and exercises that help maintain and promote mobility.
Personal Care Services
Unfortunately, as many seniors’ physical and mental health wane, so does their personal hygiene. Simple tasks like bathing, brushing one’s teeth, putting on clean clothes and shaving become tiresome and fall lower and lower on the priority list. Helping a loved one bathe is often the only answer to this conundrum.
Bathing assistance is usually only available through home care companies or home health agencies. They will send a specially trained bath aide to quickly and discretely help your loved one take a shower, bath or bed bath. Personal hygiene is crucial for good health, and many caregivers turn to this service to help a senior with self-care and avoid the discomfort of providing this intimate assistance. Home care aides can help seniors with toileting and continence care as well.
Many stylists and salons have also added house calls to their offerings to cover the more glamorous personal care services, such as haircuts, shaving and nail care, but availability depends upon a senior’s location.
How to Address a Senior’s Needs and Hire Help
Talk with your loved one about what they think their needs are and consult with other family members who are involved in their care. Once you have determined which tasks they are struggling with and which services could be useful, it’s important to begin researching providers in their area. Try to gather as much information as possible to make an informed and confident decision.
Family, friends, neighbors and coworkers can be a great source for referrals. Ask around to see if anyone you know has previously used one of the services mentioned above. This will help you get a better idea of which ones might be beneficial and which providers are reputable.
Your local Area Agency on Aging is another excellent source of information on federal, state and local services that are available for seniors and their caregivers. Healthcare providers, social workers, local churches, charities and outreach offices may also have information on senior services or offer their own programs.
Of course, there are expenses involved in caring for a senior, so it’s important to factor in costs when looking for providers. Many of the services mentioned above are private pay, while some may be covered by insurance, based on income level or free. Regardless, if your loved one is still largely capable of living independently, paying for just a few services out of pocket will likely cost less in the long run than moving into an independent living, assisted living or other long-term care facility.