In-home nursing care provides a safe, comfortable environment for senior relatives aging in place. But how do you know when it is time to introduce in-home nursing care into your loved one’s routine?
Although every senior’s situation is different, here are some of the most common signs that your loved one may need to transition to nursing care.
When you notice signs of self-neglect
When you go to check on your senior relative, what does their home look like? If your loved one is having trouble caring for themselves, you may notice a change in the cleanliness of their home. Overflowing laundry baskets, messy living areas, or dishes piling up in the sink could all signal a deeper issue that needs to be addressed.
The same goes for their level of hygiene. It’s a sensitive subject, but if you start to notice that your loved one is bathing less often or if their oral care has deteriorated, it might be worth starting a conversation to find out why.
Not sure how to introduce the topic? It’s possible to broach the subject in a kind and non-judgemental way. Try emphasising that you’re worried about how they’re managing alone and offer your support in a respectful way—whether that’s more visits, getting neighbours to check in, or a bigger conversation of hiring professional help.
Most importantly, be there to reassure your loved one that you’re not trying to change their lifestyle or take away their independence. Your only goal is to ensure they’re comfortable at home as they age.
For some older people, all they need is a caregiver a few times a week to help out with everyday tasks like laundry, meal preparation and dishes.
When your loved one has trouble remembering
Forgetfulness can be a natural part of aging. If your loved one can’t remember where they put their car keys, doesn’t remember information as well as they used to, or if it takes them longer to learn new things—don’t fret, these are all normal memory problems for people who are aging.
However, you should get them checked out by a medical professional if your loved one is:
- losing track of the date or time of year
- getting lost in familiar places
- asking the same questions over and over
- Not being able to follow directions
Serious memory problems make it harder to do everyday things and could put your loved one in harm’s way. There are techniques and exercises your loved one can do to improve their memory and mental skills, but if they don’t seem to be improving, home nursing care can be beneficial. A home nurse will have the skills required to prevent your loved one from wandering, and will be able to assist your loved one with any medical or light housekeeping tasks they need.
When you’re not sure if your loved one is taking medication correctly
If your loved one is in their senior years, chances are they need some form of medication to treat or manage a health condition. In North America alone, 75% Canadian elders are prescribed medication and this statistic jumps to 85% of U.S. seniors.
If your loved one takes multiple medications, it can be more difficult to manage them and much easier to mix them up. Wondering if your loved one is taking their medication correctly? Ask them questions about how they store their medication and how they remember to take it.
If they’re struggling to manage, you can provide them with helpful tips like:
- Making sure their medications, vitamins, and supplements are all in one place
- Creating a detailed list of their medications, with notes on how often each should be taken and at what dose
- Giving your loved one a pill organizer so they know exactly what to take on certain days of the week
- Setting up a medication reminder system on their phone, an app, or a good old-fashioned calendar
If your loved one is struggling with the organized medication system that’s meant to help them, it may be time to look at alternatives. If you’re unable to visit your loved one frequently, consider getting a home care nurse to visit and manage their medication.
Home care nurses can support your loved one around the clock. They’re trained to manage medication and monitor the health symptoms so your loved one feels empowered to continue living their lives the way they always have.
When you’re worried your loved one is too isolated
If your loved one lives alone and you live too far away for regular visits, it’s reasonable to wonder if they’re getting enough social interaction. According to the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine (NASEM) almost one quarter of adults aged 65 and older are considered to be socially isolated. These adults are more likely to experience feelings of loneliness, and are more likely to have health risks like:
- Risk of premature death (on par with people who have been lifelong smokers)
- Elevated risk of heart disease and stroke
- Higher rates of depression, anxiety, and suicide
- Increased risk of diseases like dementia
If you think your loved one is suffering from loneliness or isolation, it may be time to intervene.
You can start small. A weekly phone call from you or other family members might be all the interaction your loved one needs. If you get the sense they miss the company of others, you can gently direct them towards social clubs or activities in their area—who knows, you may introduce them to societies or community pursuits they hadn’t known about before.
If transport is an issue, it might be time for in-home nursing care. Services like Nurse Next Door can match your loved one with a caregiver who will provide transport to your loved one’s favourite activities.
If your loved one doesn’t need the ‘nursing’ component of nursing care, an expert companion could be a better alternative. Their companion can also help with grocery shopping and transportation to appointments.
When you’re stretched too thin
Taking on the responsibility of caring for your loved one is a huge act of love and kindness. But it can also take its toll. Trying to manage your own household, your job, your children, and all the other responsibilities that come with adult life can be exhausting. Signing up for the duties of a caregiver may be too much to handle.
And that’s okay. This doesn’t mean you care for your loved one any less, in fact it’s the opposite. You can’t help others for very long if you’re not taking care of your own mental health.
So how should you decide on an in-home nursing solution? First it’s a good idea to write out your current routine with your loved ones. Does it involve daily visits or weekly visits? Do you do the grocery shopping trip or help your loved one in the garden? Knowing your routine will help you figure out how often you’ll need in-home nursing care and what type of services your loved one requires.
After that, you may want to vet nursing care services for reliability, quality, and affordability. You can do this by looking for testimonials from previous customers.
Lastly, it’s important to go easy on yourself. Finding good quality nursing care can be a journey, but it’s one of the most compassionate decisions you can make for your loved one.
Post Discharge Care
The road to recovery from surgery can be a long and potentially bumpy one. Having access to professional post-surgery nursing care at home can make a world of difference, as it significantly impacts patients’ ability to heal and return to their daily lives.
Here are a few examples of how nursing care positively impacts a patient’s recovery time post-surgery.