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Recognizing the Signs: When a Loved One Needs Care

Caring for aging loved ones is a deeply emotional journey, fraught with challenges and difficult decisions. One of the toughest decisions is understanding and acting when long-term care services and supports become necessary. While each individual’s circumstances are unique, here we’ll explore some common indicators that it’s time to assess long-term care options.

Changes in Physical Health

Physical health changes are often the most noticeable indicators a loved one may require long-term care. Look for signs such as difficulty with mobility, frequent imbalance or falls, chronic pain, or worsening medical conditions. These changes may indicate  your loved one needs assistance with activities of daily living (ADLs), such as bathing, dressing, or meal preparation, which are often the focus in long-term care settings.

Cognitive Decline

Cognitive decline, such as memory loss, confusion, or disorientation, can significantly impact an individual’s ability to live independently. Keep an eye out for forgetfulness, repetitive behaviors, or difficulty managing finances or medications. These symptoms may signal the onset of conditions like Alzheimer’s disease or other forms of dementia, which often necessitate specialized extended care services. AAHA members have access to Carefull, a financial monitoring service which can help detect cognitive decline and provide notices for repetitive billing or newfound financial instability.

Social Isolation

Isolation and withdrawal from social activities or relationships may indicate a loved one is struggling with loneliness or depression, both of which can negatively impact overall well-being and contribute to both physical and cognitive decline. If your loved one shows signs of social withdrawal, it’s essential to consider whether they would benefit from the social engagement and support offered in long-term care facilities, where they can interact with peers and participate in stimulating activities. Also, take advantage of Elli-Q’s digital care companion. AAHA members access these tools at a discounted rate, and they can help detect and prevent social isolation and related mental health concerns.

Caregiver Burnout

If you’re already providing some support with the activities of daily living, but think a loved one may need more professional care, you also need to take into account your caregiving capacity. Caregiving is emotionally and physically taxing, and caregivers may reach a point of burnout where they are no longer able to provide adequate care for their loved ones. If you or other family members are experiencing caregiver stress, exhaustion, or resentment, it may be a sign that it’s time to explore long-term care options. Remember, prioritizing your own well-being is crucial to being able to provide the best care for your loved one. You may even consider supplementing your care with a home health worker, so your loved one can remain in the home while you give yourself a necessary break to focus more on yourself and your well-being.

Professional Assessment

As you’re making these tough decisions, it’s essential to consult with healthcare professionals, such as primary care physicians, geriatricians, or social workers, who can provide expert guidance and assessments of your loved one’s care needs. These professionals can offer valuable insights into the level of care required and recommend appropriate long-term care options based on your loved one’s specific circumstances and preferences.

Recognizing when a loved one needs long-term care services and support is a complex and often emotionally charged process. By staying attuned to the signs outlined above and seeking guidance from healthcare professionals, families can make informed decisions  prioritizing the safety, well-being, and dignity of their loved ones.