Assessing Long-Term Care Needs
Is it simple memory loss or Alzheimer's disease? Is it simple depression or dementia? The early symptoms of cognitive changes are often subtle and far more difficult to assess than those associated with a physical illness or disability. As a result, it can be difficult to determine whether a friend or family member can live independently or whether it's time to seek long-term care services.
Your answers to the following questions may determine whether the answer is continued independence or immediate intervention.
Independent Living Test*
Food and groceries
- Are prescriptions not being refilled, resulting in failure to take medication when scheduled?
- Has taking medication become difficult due to poor memory or confusion? Evidence may include pills taken together that shouldn't be, different pills mixed together in a pillbox, or an oversupply or undersupply of pills.
- Have conditions previously under control become acute because medication is not being taken correctly?
- Based on past food habits, are the cupboards frequently empty or being filled with unusual foods?
- Is the food in the refrigerator often spoiled or kept long beyond the "use by" date?
- Is the mail being picked up and opened regularly or does it remain uncollected and/or unopened?
- Are credit cards or checkbooks being misused or not balanced as well as in the past?
- Has the amount of social contact changed dramatically, so that there are few public outings or limited social visits with close friends?
- Has the ability to drive deteriorated? Is there a fear of driving or a recent history of multiple minor accidents that is leading to isolation?
- Has there been a change in dress or appearance or a decline in personal hygiene that is not related to physical disability? Is dress appropriate for the weather?
- Have housekeeping habits changed so that a normally neat and orderly home is now cluttered and not cleaned regularly?
- Are pets that were normally well cared for suddenly not being fed or cared for as they had been in the past?
Calls to family members or health care providers
- Is there a sudden increase in ordering unnecessary items through mail or televised advertisements?
- Has there been a marked increase in panic calls to family or medical providers without apparent need?
- Have unnecessary calls been made to 911?
- According to the National Academy on an Aging Society, an estimated 7 million older adults are having difficulty performing daily activities and will need long-term care this year. By the year 2030, that figure is expected to rise to 12 million.