You may be uncertain whether your loved one needs assistance at home, or would be safer living at a facility that offers immediate access to help.

You can make some observations on your own just by spending time with your loved one in their home and noticing where they seem to be having the most problems. Can they climb the stairs? Can they manage their medications?

Then talk to your loved one’s primary care physician. The physician may be able to advise you on what kinds of help your loved one needs, and whether it is safe for them to live on their own. If your loved one needs skilled care or has a terminal illness, the doctor may be able to certify that your loved one qualifies for home care under either Medicare’s home health care benefit or hospice benefit.

If you are not sure what your loved one needs, you may be able to find someone who can do a formal assessment:

  • You can try your Area Agency on Aging to see if they have caseworkers on hand.
    • Some religious charities run social service groups that offer free assessments. You may want to check with your local house of worship.

    You can also hire a geriatric care manager. A geriatric care manager is a health and human services professional who works privately with older adults and their families to create a plan of care that meets their needs. These services can be expensive.