How to Assess a Senior’s Needs and Make a Care Plan
You’ve taken the big step of deciding your loved one needs live-in help, but your work isn’t over. In order for caregivers to do their jobs effectively, they need a written plan of care that outlines a client’s needs.
What Needs Should be Assessed for a Plan of Care?
If your elderly family member was recently released from the hospital due to illness or injury, his doctor probably provided specific instructions for recovery. Unfortunately not all care needs are so straightforward. Families must assess each of these aspects of a senior’s life to identify the tasks he needs help with.
Emotional and Social Needs
Depression strikes older adults at an alarming rate, and according to the National Institute of Mental Health, it can lead to poorer health outcomes across the board. It’s also linked to increased rates of substance abuse and suicide. Families should monitor for warning signs of depression and other changes in personality or behavior.
Even if there are no current symptoms of mental illness, many seniors live isolated lifestyles that are conducive to mood disorders. Examine whether your loved one has frequent social outlets like church services, community centers, and visits with family and friends.
An aging senior’s physical needs can range from simple mobility assistance to complicated medical care. He may need help with activities of daily living like bathing, toileting, and dressing, preparing and consuming meals, and getting up from beds and chairs. Depending on state law, a registered nurse may be required for medical needs like administering medication.
A senior who is physically capable of meeting his daily needs could still lack the mobility required for exercise. Consider whether he needs someone to aid with physical activity or provide transportation to a qualified fitness facility.
On top of personal care, seniors might need help with household responsibilities. This includes running errands, housekeeping, pet care, and administrative tasks like paying bills and scheduling appointments. The need for household help becomes apparent when a senior’s home falls into disarray, but families needn’t wait until that point to step in. If a senior’s mobility or memory is beginning to dwindle, it’s safe to assume household chores will soon become challenging.
Families can come up with creative ways to keep an aging relative on track with household labor, like hanging checklists of daily tasks, appointments, and bills in a prominent location. However, when physical and emotional needs come into play, there’s no substitute for quality in-person care.
How is a Care Plan Developed?
Once you’ve identified the gaps in your loved one’s needs, it’s time to develop a care plan. A care plan should address four major components:
- Tasks: List out everything you want a caregiver to complete. Include essential jobs like assisting with bathing as well as tasks that improve quality of life, like playing a favorite game or going on walks.
- Responsible Party: Who will meet the needs listed? Depending on needs, a care team could include two to three rotating caregivers and a registered nurse. Read more about assembling a care team at The Fisher Center.
Additional Information: Here is where you add details relevant to each task, like dietary restrictions, favorite leisure activities, and addresses of doctor’s offices. You may also
- need to include information about their Medicare coverage (if they haven’t enrolled yet, make sure you take steps to ensure this base is covered).
- Weekly Calendar: Not every care item happens on a daily basis. Ensure less-frequent tasks like housekeeping aren’t overlooked by assigning them to days of the week.
Don’t forget to schedule downtime into your care plan. The caregiver’s job is stressful, and your loved one may resent feeling like he’s being babysat. Including opportunities for breaks and non-structured activity can improve your loved one’s care experience.
Assessing a senior’s needs and creating a plan of care is a big task, but you don’t have to do it alone. Work with relatives, your senior’s physician, and a caregiving agency to create a plan of care and review it regularly to ensure your loved one gets the best care possible.
Care at Heart provides affordable, quality at-home care services for seniors, including companionship and skilled non-medical care. To learn more about our services, please get in touch with us by calling (610) 765-0497.
Image via Unsplash
Post Author: Kent Eliot
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