Recognising when someone may require support at home

We all know that getting older means that you might need to slow down a little, but it doesn’t mean that should alter your life completely.

In fact, it is important that older people remain as active and independent as possible but unfortunately it can also mean that when the time comes to ask for help, elderly people will often refuse to do so. It can be frustrating for them to feel like they can no longer look after themselves, and they can even become embarrassed to admit they might need a little help.

But how do you know if your elderly parents, relatives or friends may need some support?

• Are they able to keep on top of hygiene and appearance? Think about their appearance. If they are unable to regularly perform daily routines such as washing, brushing their teeth, or dressing properly, then this might be a sign that they are having problems, possibly both physical and mental.

• Can they still take care of their home? If you notice a home looking a bit unloved, such as the garden becoming overgrown, or laundry piling up, with no signs of vacuuming or dusting, then there might be a problem. If the way things are being done around the house changes, then this could be a clue to the support they need.

• Are they driving safely? As eyesight and reaction times loose efficiency in old age, driving can be dangerous for elderly people. If you feel someone you know or love might be confused, or you are at all concerned about their safety while driving, then you might try to suggest they stop.

• Have you noticed they have lost weight? If someone is losing weight without trying, then it could be a sign that something is wrong. Losing weight could be a sign of many things, such as problems in preparing and cooking food, loss of taste, or other underlying medical conditions.

• Do they still socialise?. Do they still see friends? Do their hobbies still interest them? Do they go on any day trips or attend social events? If you find that someone has lost all interest in being around other people, then it could be a sign of depression or another problem that could benefit from support.

It is not pleasant to consider any of these things but if you are concerned about another’s health and wellbeing then it is important that you address your concerns as soon as possible.

Talk to them about what they are having difficulty with and what support they might need, then you can arrange for appropriate care at early stage, which may help prevent any further decline in mental or physical health.

With just a small nudge of support you may find that elderly people can have a new lease of life.

If you have any concerns about a relative or loved one and would like an informal chat about how we might help please call us on 01329 282 469.

A group of Home Instead CAREGivers talking
Family welcoming a Home Instead care manager into their home