How to Know When It's Time for Eldercare?

Growing old is never easy for the person aging, but it isn't easy for their loved ones who want to help but don't always know the best way to, either. Even though your parent may have expressed a strong desire to remain in their own home, there may come a time when - for both their safety and your emotional well-being - you may have to make some tough decisions.

Before you make the choice of how to handle eldercare for a parent, you should remove any guilt you might feel from the picture. You wouldn't be making a decision if you didn't want what's best for your loved one, and sometimes what's best doesn't always fall into line with what they want to do.

If you have an aging parent, there are signs that you need to be aware of that signify it's time to intervene with his or her care. First, you might notice more frequent falls or other injuries - such as she burns herself more often while cooking.

Secondly, you'll start to see that your parent is losing weight. Forgetfulness is a natural part of aging and sometimes elderly people forget whether or not they've eaten. Many suffer from extreme malnutrition.

Third, you might notice your parent is exhibiting signs of hermit behavior. They don't like to leave the house at all or they leave as little as possible. They've pulled back from their usual social outings.

Fourth, you'll notice that they become more disorganized. They don't pay the bills and sometimes might even experience their electricity or other utilities being turned off for non-payment.

Fifth, you see that some of their actions are dangerous to themselves and others. They might leave the stove on or forget to shut off running water. Kitchen fires can become a common occurrence.

Sixth, you'll notice the home is falling into disrepair both outside and inside. A formerly neat home becomes dirty and you may notice items beginning to accumulate. The cleanliness issues can also be with your loved one.

You see that they don't bathe or forget to bathe. They may neglect to brush their hair or to do their laundry. If they have a pet, they may neglect taking care of the pet or allow it to go to the bathroom inside the home and not clean it up.

Seventh, you'll have conversations with your parent in which they're saying the same thing they've said repeatedly. They can't remember their doctor's appointments or other engagements, either.

When it reaches this point, you have to make a decision on whether or not your parent can come live with you or if he or she needs the care of a nursing home. You need to take into consideration how much your parent can still do for himself.

Can he feed or bathe himself? What about bowel movement regularity (some forget and wind up with major health woes about this issue)? If you move him into your home, will there be someone there that can handle those tasks (emotionally as well as physically)?

You should also think about the space you have and how it would impact your life and your family. If your loved one will be left alone because you work and no one will be home, they need the care of a nursing home - where if they fall, there will be someone to help.

If you can bring your loved one into your home and can afford in home care for them, they might be an option you'd want to check out. If you can't do it, then you need to look at the next best option and make a plan for their future.