Mom has always been the matriarch in the family, but all of a sudden, she seems distant and uninterested in her home and friends. Or perhaps Dad was always the one who was never late for an appointment and had a desk as clean as a slate. At your last visit, you noticed mail piling up and a more-than-usual confused dad.

Seeing your loved one change is difficult, especially when they were the people who took care of you years ago. Now your parents depend on YOU to make the right choices, and it can be hard to know what to do. At some point, many families are faced with the decision of where to place their loved one. You may be going through the same issues right now and are uncertain of where to turn.

If you’re like many families, you may choose, at least for now, that your loved one is best at home. But, this doesn’t mean that they can live independently. Mom or Dad may need help with cooking, cleaning and laundry. They may crave more companionship or meaningful interaction. They may need assistance with bathing, dressing or toileting.

In this instance, hiring in-home help is the best option. In-home help allows your loved one to remain in the comfort and security of their home, which can improve their health and well being. It also brings a sense of peace to you and your family that cannot be there all of the time. Here are a few signs that may indicate that your loved one requires in-home help.

  • Physical changes – Does your loved one appear tired or frail? A tired, worn out senior is more likely to get sick or injured. In-home help can decrease the risk of both.

  • Lack of nourishment – Perhaps your loved one has lost their interest in eating, or maybe they don’t have the energy to prepare healthy meals. A caregiver can prepare palatable meals, and be a companion during meal times.

  • Changes in hygiene – Body odor, bad breath and dirty clothing are signs that your loved one is experiencing a change in their hygiene habits. Caregivers encourage improved hygiene, which leads to better health and self confidence.

  • Medication mistakes – Did Mom miss her medication? Did Dad take an extra dose? A pill box can help in these instances, but a caregiver is more accountable and will make sure your loved one gets their medication at the right time and in the right dosage.

  • Lapses in household management – Some families notice signs like the garbage cans overflowing, the cat’s litter box left uncleaned and laundry not getting done. If this is the case, in-home help can get your parent’s home back into gear.

  • Mood swings and confusion – Mood swings and confusion may be signs of dementia or Alzheimer’s. Home care agencies have a variety of caregivers who are trained and experienced in working with cognitive impairment.