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Coping at home: when is more help needed?

If you’re worried about your elderly parents coping at home you need to try and talk about it. No one wants to admit they might need help at home, particularly as the implications could be life-changing with a loss of independence, or worse. But, they might also be relieved to admit that life is harder than it used to be. You could also try and talk to someone who perhaps spends lots of time with them such as a neighbour or a cleaner. There are the 8 questions you need to think about when you visit:

8 Questions to consider

  • Look around the house and garden to see if things are less well cared for than they used to be: is the house dirty, especially kitchen and bathroom? Is the laundry piling up? Is post unopened?
  • moneyMoney: are bills getting paid, or are there reminders in the post? If you are able to look at a bank statement, does it look like their spending patterns have changed?
  • Medication: if they take medication, do they have dosette boxes for their pills and do they seem to be being taken regularly?
  • Personal hygiene: are they wearing clean clothes and do they appear to be looking after themselves – hair, shaving, teeth? Can they still bath/shower? It may be worth asking this question directly, as this is often a real challenge as mobility reduces.
  • Clothes: are they over or under-dressed for the weather?
  • Food: check the fridge to make sure food is in date and to see if they appear to be eating regular meals. Are they still able to cook or heat food safely?food
  • Mobility:  can they still get up and down stairs if they have them? Are they able to walk to shops or public transport, or to drive themselves safely?
  • Hobbies and socialising: are they still doing the things they have enjoyed doing until now? Are they getting out to see friends or go to activities?

What to do next

You may need to take things slowly, suggesting some cleaning help to begin with, while you investigate other help such as Care Agencies, food delivery, Care Homes, Dial-a-Ride services. There are lots of other suggestions to help someone stay longer in their own home in this section.

You could also talk to their GP, and/or arrange for an assessment from local social services. If they carry out both a needs and financial assessment, they will provide your parents/relatives with a plan regarding the care that they need, as well as providing details of how to find that care; you might also find that they will fund part or all of the care that they recommend.

We have a blog about what to do if someone refuses helpDo you have experience of realising your relative or friend can no longer cope? What did you do? Share your experience or look for others’ ideas in our Forum .