CHESHIRE, CT – After canceling celebrations last year, many families are traveling for long-awaited holiday reunions with elderly parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles. But what they find during the visit after months of isolation may be cause for concern, according to Connecticut senior home care agency Assisted Living Services, Inc.
“Even if you video chat with elderly family members, you aren’t getting the full picture of how they are living day to day,” explained Mario D’Aquila, Chief Operating Officer of Assisted Living Services, Inc. (ALS) in Cheshire and Westport. “They might not be able to prepare healthy meals, do laundry or even practice good hygiene. However the physical condition of the house can often be the clearest indicator of a person’s ability to live independently.”
D’Aquila shares that clutter in the home becomes dangerous as it increases difficulty with the activities of daily living and the risk of falls. It can also be a sign of depression, decreased mobility or cognitive impairment.
D’Aquila reassures families that professional caregivers and new technological solutions can allow older loved ones to remain safely at home. Age-related decline can happen quickly, and with fewer in-person visits during the pandemic, many seniors have been able to conceal new or worsening problems. D’Aquila offers warning signs that may indicate an elderly person needs additional help around the house or increased medical care:
Neglect of physical appearance or basic hygiene
Neglect of medical needs
Trouble performing routine tasks or chores
Inability to handle finances, pay bills
Unsteadiness, clumsiness or recent history of falling
“It’s important to address the situation as soon as possible,” urges D’Aquila. “The first step in evaluating a change may be a visit to their primary care physician for a check-up to make sure there are no underlying causes. Their doctor is the best resource to help determine if professional home health care, such as nursing care, or physical therapy is necessary.”
Oftentimes all that is necessary is the right non-medical support at home.
Another excellent resource for families seeking information about aging-in-place is on the Connecticut Association for Healthcare at Home website and it is called “Consumer Tips to Care for a Loved One at Home.”
If the person needing care qualifies for the CT Department of Social Services’ Adult Family Living/Foster Care Program under the Connecticut Home Care Program for Elders (CHCPE) and the Personal Care Assistance (PCA) Waiver Program, a family member that lives in the home can be paid to provide care. Assisted Living Services, Inc. is a credentialed provider for this program, which means the company provides the “tools” and oversight that helps caregivers succeed, including on-going support by a Registered Nurse. The caregiver can receive a tax-free stipend of over $500 per week.
Lastly, there are many situations where technology can help a senior maintain independence. Through its sister company, Assisted Living Technologies, Inc., there are automated medication dispensers to improve compliance, home safety devices that shut off a stove that is inadvertently left on, fall avoidance technologies, and Personal Emergency Response Systems that can help augment or supplement care.
“After an evaluation, our customized care plans focus on correcting the main risk factors that impact seniors and individuals with disabilities the most: falls, medication compliance, fire safety, and rapid access to emergency care,” said D’Aquila. “Beyond personal care and housework, having a caregiver in the home offers peace of mind for the entire family.”