5 Early Signs that Your Ageing Loved One May Need Extra Care

Aged Care, Home Care |

5 Early Signs that Your Ageing Loved One Needs Extra Care

Whether you’re considering your own needs or looking out for a loved one, it’s crucial to recognise the signs that could indicate it’s time to consider seeking extra help (often in the form of alternative or ‘extra’ care options). 

In this blog, let’s explore these signs, delve into the emotional and mental impacts of ageing, discuss how to broach the subject with family and friends, and provide some insights into available aged care services.

Understanding ageing as a natural process

Before diving into the signs that may indicate the need for additional care, it’s essential to acknowledge that getting older is inevitable for all of us. As we age, it’s common to experience changes in our physical health. From decreased mobility to chronic health conditions, these changes are a natural part of ageing and should always be approached with understanding and compassion. 

However, it’s also important to recognise that ageing isn’t just about physical health. Emotional and mental wellbeing equally play a significant role in our overall quality of life. Loneliness, depression, and anxiety are common challenges faced by many older adults. Addressing these emotional and mental impacts is just as important as tending to physical health needs. 

5 signs your ageing loved one may need extra care

Now, let’s explore some common signs that may indicate your loved one, who is living at home, may require additional care: 

1. Changes in physical health: Keep an eye out for changes in mobility, difficulty performing daily tasks, unexplained bruises, weight loss, or signs of neglect in personal hygiene and home upkeep.  

2. Memory loss or cognitive decline: Forgetfulness, confusion, disorientation, and difficulty with decision-making can be early signs of dementia or other cognitive impairments. Keep in mind – memory loss that interferes with daily functioning or safety warrants further evaluation by a healthcare professional. 

3. Increased dependency: If your loved one is becoming increasingly reliant on others for tasks they used to manage independently, it could signal a need for additional support. This may include assistance with activities of daily living such as bathing, dressing, or meal preparation. 

4. Social withdrawal: Isolation and withdrawal from social activities can indicate feelings of loneliness or depression, which can negatively impact mental health. Encouraging social engagement and connection with friends, family, or community groups is essential for emotional wellbeing. 

5. Safety concerns: Unexplained accidents, falls, or incidents at home raise concerns about safety and may indicate a need for assistance or supervision. 

Approaching the conversation with sensitivity

Raising the topic of additional care with a loved one can be challenging, but it’s essential to broach any discussion with empathy and sensitivity. Here are some tips: 

  • Choose the right time and place: Find a quiet, comfortable setting where you can have an open and honest conversation without distractions. Choose a time when both you and your loved one are feeling calm and relaxed.
  • Express your concerns: Start the conversation by expressing your concern for their wellbeing. Use “I” statements to convey your feelings without placing blame. For example, “I’ve noticed that you’ve been having difficulty with…” or “I’m worried about your safety at home.” 
  • Listen empathetically: Allow your loved one to express their thoughts and feelings without judgment. Listen actively and validate their emotions. Reassure them that you’re there to support them and find a solution together. 
  • Offer support and information: Provide reassurance that you’re there to support them through any changes. Offer information about available care options and resources and even encourage them to do some research themselves. 

Exploring aged care options

There are various aged care services tailored to meet the diverse needs of older adults. These services include: 

Residential aged care

Residential aged care facilities provide accommodation, meals, personal care, and 24-hour nursing support for those who require higher levels of assistance. This option is suitable for individuals who can no longer live independently at home due to complex care needs. 

Home care packages

Home care packages offer support services that enable older adults to remain living independently in their own homes. These services can include personal care, domestic assistance, nursing care, and allied health services. Home care packages are tailored to individual needs and preferences, allowing for flexibility and choice in care delivery. 

Community support programs

Community-based programs and services, such as day therapy centres, social outings, and support groups, that promote social connection and engagement for older adults living in the community. These programs provide opportunities for community engagement and interaction, recreational activities, and access to support services.

Through a home care package, some providers will assist you to connect with relevant community support centres and programs. 

For more insights, read our comparison between residential aged care and home care.

Choosing the right service

With a range of services available for older Australians, it’s important to carefully consider which option best meets your needs and preferences. Here are some factors to consider: 

  • Level of care needed: Assess your current and future care needs, including physical, emotional, and social support requirements. Consider whether you require minimal assistance to remain living independently at home or if you need more intensive care in a residential aged care facility. 
  • Personal preferences: Think about your preferences regarding living arrangements, location, cultural considerations, and lifestyle choices. Whether you prefer to stay in your own home with support services or move into a residential facility, it’s essential to choose an option that aligns with your values and preferences. 
  • Financial considerations: Understand the costs associated with different aged care services and how they will be funded. Explore government subsidies, eligibility criteria, and financial assistance options to determine affordability and accessibility. 
  • Quality of care: Research and compare aged care providers based on their reputation, accreditation status, staff qualifications, and quality of care indicators. Look for providers that prioritise person-centred care, safety, and dignity for older adults. 
  • Accessibility and availability: Consider the accessibility and availability of aged care services in your area. 

Seeking additional support while receiving home care

If you are already receiving home care services and think you may require extra support or assistance, there are steps you can take to seek additional services or get re-evaluated: 

  • Start by discussing your changing needs with your home care provider. They can help assess your current care plan, identify areas where additional support may be required, and discuss available options for increasing services.
  • Work with your care provider to review and update your care plan based on your evolving needs and goals. This may involve adjusting the types and frequency of services provided, coordinating with healthcare professionals, and incorporating new strategies for managing your care at home.
  • If your care needs have changed significantly since your initial assessment, you may be eligible for a reassessment by an Aged Care Assessment Team (ACAT). Contact My Aged Care or speak to your healthcare provider to request a reassessment and discuss your changing care needs.
  • In addition to your existing home care package, explore additional services and support options that may be available to you. This could include allied health services, social support programs, or assistive technology to enhance your independence and quality of life.

Resources for further information

If you’re considering options for yourself or a loved one, there are several great resources available to help guide you in the decision-making process: 

  • My Aged Care: The Australian Government’s My Aged Care website provides information and access to aged care services, assessments, and support. You can search for aged care providers in your area, learn about eligibility criteria, and request an aged care assessment. 
  • Aged Care Assessment Team (ACAT): ACAT assessors can help determine the level of care and support needed and assist with accessing appropriate services. To arrange an assessment, you can contact My Aged Care or speak to your healthcare provider. 
  • Local aged care providers: Reach out to local aged care providers and local community organisations for information about services available in your area. They can provide guidance and support tailored to you or your loved one’s needs and circumstances.

In summary

Acknowledging when your loved one may need additional care is a crucial step in ensuring their safety, wellbeing, and quality of life as they age. By understanding the signs, approaching the conversation with sensitivity, and exploring the available aged care services in Australia, you can support your loved one in making informed decisions about their care needs.  

Remember, you’re not alone in this journey – there is expert help, support networks, and resources available to assist you every step of the way. 

We’re here to support you

We’re here to help! To find out more about Respect’s Aged Care homes, click here.

If you’d like to receive hassle-free in-home care support, start with our free home care report for a step-by-step guide to accessing a Home Care Package (HCP), understanding costs, and a must-have handy home care checklist. Take the first step toward care at home — download now for free. 

Got questions or like to receive more support? We’re here to help. Please reach us via our contact page or call us on 1300 144 144.

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