Do I Need Assistance?
One of the hardest questions we need to ask as we age is “Do I need assistance?” We all have experience asking for assistance. Most of us bring our cars to a mechanic, see doctors when we’re ill, and call a plumber when our pipes burst. But when we age, we’re reluctant to acknowledge we need help. Why?
Why Asking For Assitance Is Hard?
Seniors find it difficult to ask for help for a variety of reasons. Carmen and I found that anxieties about seeking help fall into three general categories: one involves a loss of autonomy, the other pride, and the final involves fear. All the categories involve seniors losing something they value.
Loss of Autonomy
Many seniors told Carmen and I that they worried requests for help would be met with a loss of autonomy. For example, several seniors told us that when they asked for help from their children with driving places they were told they should consider moving to a home closer to doctors and grocery stores.
Another reason seniors don’t ask for help is a sense of pride. We’re proud of our achievements. Many seniors perceive themselves as parents that help others, not people that need help. Asking our children for help reverses the role, and many seniors don’t want to be in this role.
Almost every senior fears change. And for most seniors, needing help from anyone but a spouse represents change. When we’re used to doing things by ourselves, doing things differently produces anxiety.
Making It Easier To Ask For Help
So what do I do? That’s a really hard question to address. It’s one reason Carmen and I created CarePlanIt. The first place to start is to determine how your need for assistance will be identified.
The senior care industry is pretty mature. It’s been operating for over four decades. The industry identifies seniors needing assistance by something called Instrumental Activities of Daily Living (or IADLs). IADLs are seen as vital skills for seniors wanting to live independently. They are the activities we teach our teenagers to help them transition into adulthood. IADLs require cognitive capabilities and are more complex than ADLs. The IADL is the industry’s assessment tool.
Instrumental Activities of Daily Living
IADLs include the tasks a senior needs to perform to be independent. In other words, if you can perform all your IADLs, physicians would consider you independent. IADLs include the tasks below.
1. Ability to Use Telephone
A. Assessment questions distinguish between those capable and those that are forgetting numbers or simply can’t use a phone.
A. Assessment questions separate those that can shop on their own from those that can accompany or simply can’t participate at any level.
3. Food Preparation
A. Assessment questions distinguish between cooks, those that can maintain an adequate diet and those unable to manage anything food-related.
A. Assessment questions separate those that can do all their own housekeeping, those that need some help, and those that can’t do anything.
A. Assessment questions distinguish between those that can do their own laundry, those that do light items, and those that can’t do anything.
6. Mode of Transportation
A. Assessment questions identify those that can independently drive or use public transportation, those that can independently use taxis, those that can go along with a little help, and those that can’t use any transportation anymore without significant assistance.
7. Responsibility for Own Medications
A. Assessment questions distinguish between those capable of managing their own medications, those that can appropriately take pills when placed in a dispenser and those that can’t properly take medications on their own.
8. Ability to Handle Finances
A. Assessment questions distinguish between those that can manage their own finances, those that need some help, and those that can’t do anything.
Why IADLs Matter
The more help we need the less independent we are. The questions above are used to assess the ability to live in your own home. When I can’t perform a task above my need for assistance grows. When I can’t perform any of the tasks above, I need a lot of assistance.
Other Resources To Determine If I Need Assistance
Learn how home care can help seniors here.