Remaining Independent: You Have Options

Smiling old woman drinking coffee while at home

by Autumn McNeil, Caregiver, Home Helpers/Direct Link 

Mom had a fall and needed help getting up. She was on the floor for several hours before her daughter came to check on her. Dad’s eyesight is poor. He can’t cook or clean for himself. A neighbor has trouble getting around on her own. She needs transportation to doctor appointments and help with shopping. A friend can’t remember to take his medication properly. He gets disoriented and weak.

All these people have one thing in common. They need assistance, but don’t want to give up their independence. They don’t want to be a burden on anyone. Luckily, there are options that can help them remain safe and happy in their homes.

There is the option of in home care. Caregivers can drive clients to doctor appointments, assist with shopping and other errands. They can help with cooking, bathing, and light housekeeping. These may not sound important, however, they keep the client healthy and happy. Companionship is so very important to people who can’t get out. Sometimes, seeing a familiar, smiling face can be a big boost to their day. When choosing a caregiver, going through an agency has several benefits over working with an independent caregiver. Should a caregiver get sick or otherwise can’t come to the client, an agency will have a backup caregiver. Caregivers who work through an agency will also be insured, bonded, and have passed a background check.

There are services that can call for help when the client can’t help themselves. These services are personal emergency response systems (PERS). A simple push of a button connects them with the help they need in case of falls, dizziness, choking, being locked out of the house, and other situations. These services are inexpensive and can provide peace of mind that help is just a button push away. Many people have the PERS system but refuse to wear the buttons. They say that their phone or cell phone will do the same as the PERS. Cell phones may be out of reach or the person may too wounded or confused to dial for help. A single button push is much more reliable.

When choosing an emergency response system, there are several things to keep in mind. Is the user going to stay mostly indoors? Do they go outside? Do they go other places on their own? Check the distance range of the systems. Make sure they will cover the area the clients will be in. There are some systems that provide coverage away from home. Also, PERS are not just for the elderly. Anyone living alone can benefit from these systems.

Within the home, there are physical aids that can be put in place to assist people with everyday tasks. These include lever handle faucets, grab bars, handrails, bathroom aids, wheelchairs and ramps, large number telephones, and more. These items help clients go about their everyday activities with confidence. This helps them to stay active and healthy instead of sitting around doing nothing.

Working together, family and friends, along with caregivers can make the difference between remaining independent in the home or moving into a care facility. Therefore, we must work with their needs and wishes, to find the best care plan. Each person’s needs are different and must be taken into account.

As a caregiver, I have found that clients don’t want to admit they are getting older any more than we do. Treating our clients with the respect they deserve, giving them some control over the things they do, options of activities, etc. can often make the transition easier for all involved. I have found that learning about their backgrounds, hobbies, likes and dislikes can be icebreakers and topics of conversation to keep them engaged. The more active, whether it is mentally or physically, the happier and healthier our loved ones (and we) will be.