At age 82, Raymond became weaker and was unable to leave his home. His days passed with just his radio and television for company. Sound like a recipe for loneliness? It is. His niece, Patricia, visited once a month and noticed that Raymond’s house was messy, and his medicine bottles were empty. She wondered if it was time to consider long-term care for him. National Shut-In Visitation Day is a time to think about the needs of the shut-ins in your life. When you visit your elderly friends and family, will you be able to recognize the signs that it’s time for long-term care?
How will I know that my loved one is homebound?
A “shut-in” is someone who is unable to leave home, usually because of physical or mental disabilities. Running errands, going to the doctor, or just taking a walk down the street may be difficult, if not impossible.
In Raymond’s case, his niece visits periodically. She keeps an eye on him and has begun to recognize that he needs more help. A once-a-month visit is just not enough anymore.
Be aware of how active your elderly friends and family members are. Have they stopped going to church or the market? Find out why and see if you can help.
How will I know when it’s time for long-term care?
Visit often and watch carefully. Senior citizens who want to hang onto their independence as long as possible may hide their needs from you.
However, there are some signs you can watch for:
- Changes in weight, balance, energy, strength, or personal hygiene. For example, Patricia might notice that Raymond is having trouble walking from the living room to the kitchen. Perhaps his clothes are hanging on him because he’s been unable to cook for himself and doesn’t eat. He may also stop bathing because it’s too difficult to get in and out of the tub.
- Memory loss or confusion. Some memory loss is normal for an older person. However, when an older person is no longer able to remember to take medicine, shut the front door at night, or turn off the stove, it’s time for long-term care.
- Lifestyle. When an older person suddenly becomes sloppy and messy, it may be time to consider in-home or residential care. Patricia should be concerned if Raymond, who was previously meticulous about keeping his home clean, suddenly leaves food on the counter to spoil or lets trash pile up around the house.
You Can Help. So Can We.
It’s easy to let people slip through the cracks, even if we care about them. When visiting your homebound friends and relatives, you may have to help them accept the reality of long-term care.
Finding the right long-term care may take time. Figuring out how to pay for it may get complicated, especially if you need to apply for Medicaid. Know where you stand now, and how to plan. Talk to an Alabama attorney with experience and training to handle your concerns. Contact Adams & Miller, P.C. at 256-251-2137 to schedule an appointment. We help clients in Anniston, Talladega, Birmingham, Gadsden and surrounding communities.