Half of people say older relatives need more help at homeMonday 23 December 2013
Research for Allied Healthcare, the UKs largest provider of Homecare, reveals that families spend more time with relatives over the Christmas period and as a result, last year more than half (54%) identified that elderly relatives needed more help around the home than they realised.
Half of people say older relatives need more help at home
- 29% notice a deterioration in the mental or physical wellbeing of older relatives
- Tips on the top tell-tale signs that might indicate more help is needed
In addition almost a third of those questioned said that spending that extra concentrated time together meant they had noticed a change in the physical or mental health of their loved ones.
However, while 29% was the national average, the figure was significantly higher in Wales where 49% of families surveyed said they noticed a change in their relative’s health, and 60% of families in Wales said they believed older relatives needed more home help.
Richard Preece, Allied Healthcare’s medical director commented “For fear of causing a fuss many older people will do their best to play down the fact that they’re finding things around the home more difficult - and for a relatively short visit this is entirely possible. However, maintaining this façade is over a longer visit is much more difficult. Watching out for the tell-tale signs when visiting parents or grandparents this year could make all the difference.”
Top Ten Tips - the way to check wellbeing is to look and listen for changes or concerns.
1. Is there any change in speech or breathing?
2. Is there any change, bruise or a break in the skin?
3. Is there any change in behaviour, movement or general mobility?
4. Is there any change in eating or drinking?
5. Do they tell you they have been unwell?
6. Do they seem to be finding it harder to carry out tasks like lifting a kettle etc?
7. Is there a change in the cleanliness of their home?
8. Are they finding it difficult to recall recent activities/conversations or do they seem unusually confused?
9. Do they seem more nervous about being away from their own surroundings?
10. Are items in the home misplaced (i.e. wallets/bags in fridge or bathroom etc.)
Whilst none of these things in isolation should give rise to immediate concern, it could indicate that there may be an underlying problem. Allied Healthcare’s research has shown that people find it much easier to talk to their children about their health than many other subjects, so these indicators could provide a starting point for talking about whether they might need a little more support around the home.
Richard Preece continued “Often it is simple things that contribute to a serious decline in health. Three of the most sinister are not maintaining good fluid or nutrition intake, not keeping warm, and the presence of hazards around the home that increase the chance of a fall.
“Even relatively mild arthritis can make it difficult to lift pans and kettles and prepare food and drink. Even the most minor loss of balance and agility can lead to catastrophic falls.”
“We all ‘toddler-proof’ our homes, but rarely do we think of ‘elder-proofing’ them. However, some things can be a real problem to a person with reduced mobility – everything from a slightly uneven path, to a loose rail, to a step with a high rise can become a major obstacle or health risk.”
Top tips to ‘elderproof’ yours or your loved ones homes:
• Check the kitchen and utensils are easy to use.
• Check the kettle is not being overfilled making it difficult to lift.
• Check food is available and being used.
• Check the floors are free from trip hazards.
• Check the heating is maintained and the room is warm.
Approaching the topic of help around the home is never easy, but whatever your age and ability everyone needs some help whether it’s the plumber to fix the boiler, or for somebody to carry out some of the tasks in the home to make life easier.
Richard Preece concluded “Visits are an opportunity to have a chat about whether extra support will protect their independence. Being alert on Christmas visits will spread health and happiness into the new year.”
Notes to Editors
Allied Healthcare has been providing healthcare within the home for more than 40 years. With a network of over 140 community-based branches across the UK offering a personalised service from paediatrics, ventilator care at home through to elderly care. Our care workers live within a 30 minute drive of more than 90 percent of the UK population.
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