With an ever-increasing number of senior citizens in the United States, the odds are great that you are, or soon will be, involved in the care of an elderly family member. Whether you live nearby and are able to provide frequent care or live far away and can contribute financial support, there may come a time when professional assistance is needed.

But how do you know when it’s time for professional elder care assistance? The simple answer is, whenever it becomes apparent that the current care system is no longer working well. The more complicated answer is, it could depend on several factors, such as aging relatives no longer able to safely live on their own in their own home or in a retirement community. Perhaps constant medical attention is required or the level of care necessary is beyond the skill or resources of the family. In some cases, an elderly family member is receiving good care while living at home but the primary caregiver has become burnt out, emotionally and physically overwhelmed by the daily responsibilities.

If your aging family members have been living in their own homes, try to visit them in person as often as possible and observe any changes in their status. Look for signs that they may need help, such as forgetting to take their medications or eat meals, an inability to care for their pets, maintain a reasonable level of personal hygiene or perform basic household chores.

After it is determined that more than the current level of care is needed, there are many types of care that may be considered, such as adult day care, in-home care or assisted-living communities as well as nursing homes. Of course, there are other factors that may come into play when making a decision. It is possible the elderly loved one may resist a “stranger” coming into their home or refuse to move into a care facility. Family members may also disagree about the level of care needed, with those who live a distance away not understanding the time, physical or emotional demands placed on nearby family members who have become the primary caregivers.

Acknowledging that additional help may be needed can be a very difficult decision, complicated by financial limitations, family opinions, feelings of guilt and fear of the unknown. Depending upon the circumstances, several options may be available or financial considerations may restrict the elder care choices to just a few.

If you don’t know what to do or if your family can not come to an agreement, try to seek out a neutral opinion for advice. ElderLink is committed to helping every person who calls find the most appropriate and cost effective retirement care for their unique situation. Working with us will save time, relieve stress, anxiety and frustration, so if the time has come that you or a family member is no longer able to maintain an independent lifestyle, contact ElderLink to discuss elder care services and options available throughout California.