Caregiver Checklist: Changes to Watch for in yourself and your loved one

There’s an old saying: If your loved one forgets where they put their keys, they’re probably just distracted, stressed, or overworked. In other words, it’s likely nothing to worry about. If they forget what their keys are for, that may be a sign your loved one needs more help.

While we offer many care options at Cherrywood Pointe, the signs your loved one is ready to make the move into one of our communities are rarely as black and white as the example of the keys.

In reality, the decision to change your loved one’s living arrangements is stressful, emotional and even guilt-inducing. It’s difficult to know if “now” is the right time. Recognizing the fact that the time has come is vital to your loved one’s care, safety and well-being.

Of course, that process is about assessing your loved one’s needs, behavioral changes and diminishing abilities. It might surprise you, however, to know it’s also about YOU.

What is your level of caregiver stress? According to AARP, some 16 million Americans are full- or part-time caregivers for loved ones. That role can run the gamut from caring for them in your home 24/7, to being on-call to check on Mom and Dad or administer their pills as they continue to live on their own, or having the talk about wills, wishes, finances and final arrangements. None of it is easy. Caregiving can get overwhelming quickly, and your mental and physical health can suffer as a result.

One topic that gets brought up by caregivers frequently is “When is the right time to move Mom or Dad?” We advise caregivers to ask themselves several questions that serve to highlight their own state of mind, level of emotional stress and physical health, all of which can be impacted by caregiving.

  • Is the caregiving process getting increasingly difficult for you?
  • Are you emotionally drained, exhausted or depressed much of the time?
  • Are you physically unable to get your loved one into the shower or to the bathroom?
  • Is your own health failing?
  • Do you feel you have nothing in your life except caregiving?
  • Have you set many “lines in the sand” in terms of things you just can’t deal with on your own, like incontinence, that you deal with anyway?

If the answer to any of these is ‘yes,’ it may be time to explore the alternatives we offer at Cherrywood Pointe.

Thinking of your loved one, a noticeable change in behavior is another indicator that the time to make a change is ‘now.’ Here are some signs we suggest people to watch for. You can also download this handy checklist of “What to check for when checking on loved ones.”

Early changes and signs

  • Are they eating? Yes, you may have them signed up for daily deliveries of Meals on Wheels. Are they eating those meals or are they accumulating in the refrigerator?
  • Are they getting out to social events with friends, church or family get-togethers? Social isolation is another reason to consider senior living.
  • Are they taking care of their home? Maintenance-free living is a great advantage of senior living communities.
  • Have you taken away the car keys because of an incident or simply a lack of confidence in their safety to drive?
  • Do you trust that they can get to the bathroom on their own at night?
  • Have they fallen one or more times?
  • Are they repeating favorite stories over and over, more than usual?
  • Do they seem increasingly innocent and childlike?
  • Are they responsible to pay bills and take their meds on their own?
  • Are they keeping up with doctors’ appointments?

More serious changes and signs

  • Do you believe their health and safety is at risk? Falling, missing medications, not getting to the bathroom in time, having to navigate stairs at home with increasing difficulty, not eating and more all add up. If you feel they’re not safe at home, it’s time to consider your options seriously.
  • Have they been “sundowning”? Sundowner syndrome is very common. It means becoming increasingly agitated, upset, confused or angry as the day winds down.
  • Do they wander? This can be extremely stressful for caregivers. You finally take a moment to go into the bathroom or to start dinner, and they are out the door.

If your loved ones are exhibiting these signs, or if you are feeling overwhelmed by caregiving, it’s time to seek help. Our senior care specialists are there to help when you’re facing the decision to move your loved one into one of our communities. It gives peace of mind to know your loved one can receive the care they need and have help available 24/7.

Contact us to learn more about how we can help you and your family with a move to Cherrywood Pointe Senior Living.