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In-home care options available for aging parents, seniors

There are several in-home options for those with aging parents or senior family members.

Experts recommend conversations with seniors begin early when the senior is mentally healthy, and that the conversations are honest about the senior’s needs.

Make time to talk

Amy Hane, an aging life care manager in Aiken, said a good age range to talk to parents about what they want is when they are in their mid 50s to early 60s.

There are a few tell-tale signs to look for that may suggest the need for longterm care, including lack of personal hygiene or physical health.

A person may also be confusing appointments, changing eating and sleeping patterns, driving poorly and neglecting house or yard work.

To figure out first and next steps, a family could start with an aging life care specialist, Hane said. They complete full assessments of the senior’s needs.

“We look at the parents from a physical and a cognitive and emotional and financial standpoint, and then we make suggestions about in-home care based on the information we gather,” Hane said.

A specialist may suggest a family hire in-home care through an agency and consider how often and how many hours an elderly parent or senior needs care.

She noted with in-home care, one caregiver is devoted to the person or the couple for all non-medical needs, meaning one person is charged by the hour. That caregiver may make sure the person or couple bathes and dresses.

The caregiver may also cook, open mail, do some light housekeeping and laundry, drive and even go to the doctor with a client. She added the caregiver cannot administer medicine but can provide companionship.

The caregiver might also simply remind a senior to complete tasks like bathing or changing. Hane noted this route is different from assisted living that charges per month for room and board and care.

Time to declutter

Once a senior has been evaluated and chosen care, a senior move manager could come in and help a person organize the space.

Senior move manager Leasa Segura said sometimes seniors have stored items for decades, which can get in the way of their physical mobility. Those in her profession help declutter, which she said is important for people who are trying to age in place.

The move manager can help families decide what to throw away or what to donate or give to a family member or close friends. Segura noted often it’s important seniors realize many kids or grandkids usually have homes full of their own things and may not have use for theirs.

“It’s heartbreaking to the senior but to us, when you’re doing your will and medical directive, one of the other pieces that you want to do is think, ‘Who’s getting your china or does anyone even want your china?'” she said. “You need to have those discussions before someone passes away.”

Planning also helps avoid fighting between family members over items. The senior can also seek help with an estate sale, as well.

Movement is healing

Items aren’t the only thing that should get moving in a senior’s home.

Athletic trainer Tiara Timmerman said it’s important that aging people, especially those in home, exercise.

“Movement truly is healing. No matter who we are. No matter what our station in life, no matter what age. It can help facilitate wellness of mind, body and spirit,” Timmerman said. 

If a senior is homebound due to a debilitating life event like a stroke or loss of limb due to diabetes, they can hire an occupational or physical therapist, though she said that can become costly longterm if insurance does not continue to pay.

After a traumatic life event, some families can consider hiring a trainer at a reasonable price to come in and help supplement. Timmerman advises those considering a trainer to make sure the person is certified and has a speciality in dealing with the senior population or at least experience in working with seniors.

Trainer or not, movement is vital.

Even a person aging normally can experience a loss of flexibility, and people should stretch more as they age to improve the lubrication of the joints, she said.

Other benefits moving provides is reducing bone and muscle loss, chances of cancer, as well as helping with mortality.

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