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Aging is never easy for any of us.  We all age differently and not everyone will need the additional support offered by a care home.  But for those who do – when do you know it’s the right time to talk about going into a home?

Although this is a really difficult subject for any family, we wanted to share some of the early warning signs which may mean an older person is finding independent living more challenging.

The most obvious is a fall or a physical injury.  Tasks which have previously been everyday such as cooking, cleaning and ironing suddenly pose risks to an older person.  Stairs can be dangerous, along with hard floors (which can increase the risk of a slip).

Older people may become embarrassed that they can’t complete everyday tasks as they could previously – you may find your loved one hiding or playing down bumps, bruises, scrapes or burns.  If this is the case, it might be time to consider reducing their risk with the safe space a care home can provide.

Any issues with going to the loo or incontinence can also be a sign that your loved one is struggling with independent living.  If an older person can’t go to the toilet unaided, they’re waking up to a wet bed, or they’re having more accidents due to poor mobility or bowel control, having someone on hand 24/7 to assist them can help to bring their confidence back whilst maintaining their dignity.

Another sign is if you find yourself receiving more phone calls than normal, especially at night time.  Dementia can cause increased agitation or anxiety later on in the day, which is really tough for family members, particularly if they have a habit of wandering.  A key sign that someone is struggling with independent living is if they are constantly in contact by telephone and they may become agitated if they can’t reach you.

Eating habits may change – as we get older, our taste changes and different foods may become less appealing to us.  However, if your loved one isn’t eating much or you’ve noticed that they are struggling to cook and prepare food, it might be time to consider a care home.  Here at Knights Care, we understand the importance of food and ensure that all of our meals are nutritious and wholesome.  We also get to know our residents and ensure we keep their favourite dishes/ingredients in stock – so their favourite comfort food can be made if they fancy it!

If your loved one is struggling to bathe or shower and their personal hygiene standards have slipped a little, it can be really, really difficult to discuss this.  Look out for signs such as – sleeping in a chair in front of the TV, unused towels in the bathroom, wearing the same clothes as it’s too difficult for them to get dressed and undressed.  Look at their bathroom and try to understand how easy or difficult it might be for them to get in and out of the bath or shower.  It’s not uncommon for older people to be embarrassed to have these conversations, but it’s so important as these are all key signals that a person isn’t coping with living independently.

You may notice medication piling up on the kitchen side – this is a crucial red flag and one that cannot be ignored.  As we get older, we sometimes have to take quite a few different medications and it can become difficult to remember which pills have been taken and when.  A dedicated care home team will administer medication whilst monitoring changes in health – providing peace of mind to you and your family.

Problems with moving and walking – general changes in mobility can cause all sorts of issues when an older person is living independently.  It’s worth considering that it might be safer and more comfortable for your loved one to move to a home, if they are struggling with walking, getting out of bed, or getting up from the couch or a chair.

If you’ve noticed that the house or garden is looking a little dishevelled – plates are piled high next to the sink or food which is well past its sell by date is stacked in the fridge, these are all smaller signs that your loved one is struggling to keep on top of living alone.

The final point to look out for is if you or other family members are close to burn out or are feeling stressed and overwhelmed.  We often find that people don’t consider this to be a key indicator that their loved ones need to go into a care home, because it doesn’t directly affect the person who may need to go into a home.  Being the main caregiver for anyone is a tremendous responsibility, caring for someone with dementia or an older person with significant mobility issues is certainly not easy.  If this is affecting you, discuss how you feel with your family and talk to us about the different options and types of care we can provide.

If you or any of your family members are experiencing any of the above, please get in touch with us.  We’re here to help and support you and your family, whether you’d like more information on our homes, or you’d just like to have a chat to discuss your options.

Balazs Liszka