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Many senior spouses and adult children will at some point find themselves faced with the declining health of their loved one. There are instances where a senior may be up and mobile one day and then a fall renders them totally dependent on others for assistance the next. Other times the little things start to go. First your mom can’t seem to find the strength to keep up with her hair. The next visit reveals a fridge full of rotten food. A once meticulously groomed homemaker, now requires companion and personal care assistance.

It is important, however unpleasant it may be, to pay attention to the little indicators that the independence of an individual may be changing. As well as paying attention, adjustments should be made to compensate for the individual’s need.

For instance, a senior with bouts of confusion or the beginning stages of Alzheimer’s should be accompanied on all outings. What happens if they get on the northbound interstate in a moment of confusion and don’t realize what they’ve done for several hours? Will they be able to find their way back home?

Homecare or assistance CANNOT be viewed as a matter of convenience. An individual’s safety and well-being during their daily activities is as essential to their on-going health as taking their prescriptions or visiting their physician on a routine basis. You should never substitute professional care for a makeshift option and expect that the results be optimal. Home care agencies, assisted living facilities and adult day cares exist for a reason! A condo with a handicap ramp, the TV and a locked door will never suffice for a professional aide with experience in caring for a dementia patient and the stimulus of an Alzheimer’s day care or group.

Occasionally the decision maker of the family will be the individual in mental or physical decline. This can be especially hard on the spouse or family members who previously were in the habit of relying on the judgement of their loved-one. It will be tempting to allow the individual to continue to make all the decisions without support or guidance out of habit. However, it can be detrimental and quite unfair to expect an individual with clouded judgement or under intense physical and emotional stress to make clear and rational decisions. As stressful and saddening as it may be, you’re doing your best by your loved-one or spouse by coming alongside them and relieving them of the weight of such an arduous task as establishing homecare or a backup plan for when they are no longer able to care for themselves independently.

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