Prospero social worker, Heather, sitting and speaking to elderly man

When is the Right Time to get Home-Based Medical Care for my Loved One?

While aging and illness are inevitable parts of life, watching a loved one struggle with changes to their body and mind can be painful, scary, and confusing. This is especially true for caregivers. Despite your best efforts, there may come a time when your parent, spouse, or other loved one needs extra support in the home from a healthcare professional. But how do you know when that time is? And how do you bring up such a sensitive topic? We’re here to help answer those questions.

Signs Your Loved One Could Benefit From Home-Based Care

Elderly lady sitting and resting her head on her hand

According to Dr. Dave Moen, President of Prospero Health Partners, P.C., the early signs that your loved one may need help around the home are straightforward and easy to spot: “Changes such as weight loss, decreased mobility, and difficulty performing activities of daily living (e.g., bathing, grooming, dressing, and eating) are signals that a home-based approach could be effective.”

You should also look out for changes in your loved one’s mood and demeanor. Do they appear depressed or withdrawn? Are they quick to anger? If so, they may be reluctant or perhaps even embarrassed to share the difficulties of their health issues with you.

“One of the under-recognized and often unspoken aspects of aging is people’s desire to not be a burden to their loved ones, and that desire prevents people from asking for the help they need.”

Dr. Moen

Other signs of being ready for home-based care include: 

  • Loss of interest in relationships or hobbies that were once important
  • Difficulties with medication management
  • Safety concerns such as falls or kitchen fires 
  • Memory loss (repeating questions, taking longer to complete everyday tasks, forgetting or misusing common words, etc.) 

How to have a difficult (but necessary) conversation with your loved one about their health

Elderly and younger man sitting inside and having a conversation

If you notice some of the signs described above, it may be a good time to talk to your loved one about their health issues and the possibility of seeking home-based care. As you prepare for what could be a difficult conversation, think about who the best messenger would be. Should you broach the subject, or should it be another family member or trusted friend? Consider gathering opinions from others who share in the caregiving duties. 

Once you’ve decided who the messenger will be, spend some time thinking about how you would like to approach the conversation. Rather than feeling like you have to convince your loved one they need more support, Dr. Moen recommends that caregivers focus on understanding how their loved ones feel about their current situation:

“It’s important to give your loved one time to share what it is they want. You really have to listen—get good at asking questions. You can ask, ‘How do you feel about how you’re being supported right now?’”

Keeping in mind that older people with serious illnesses are fearful of losing their independence, make it clear that home-based care will help your loved one live at home as long as possible and avoid unnecessary hospitalizations. You can also point out that enrolling with a home-based provider like Prospero does not mean patients must stop seeing their primary physicians. Rather, the Prospero team supplements the care patients receive from their primary physician and helps coordinate between various providers. 

Above all, Dr. Moen suggests that caregivers communicate they want what’s best for their loved one and will support them no matter what they decide:

“You can convey a sense of loyalty by saying, ‘I want you to live your best days. This is an important time in life—I want to spend that time with you and I’d like to figure out how we can do that better.’” 

If you’re worried about your loved one’s health and wish to learn more about home-based care, please call Prospero anytime (toll free) at 1-888-608-1741, TTY 711.