21 Questions To Ask Yourself About Personal Care

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Art: Robin Mead

Getting ready for your home care assessment?

Many of our readers report that they had difficulty qualifying for home care or getting approved for enough hours because they did not think through the personal care questions. These questions are often called “Activities of Daily Living.”

Before your assessment, it can be a big help to carefully consider each area of personal care. You may discover that you have some needs you never thought to mention!

Tip: If you find it hard to remember things or answer questions on the spot, you can write down your answers ahead of time. You can have the written answers with you during the meeting and then read them. Or some people find it helpful to email their answers to the case worker ahead of time.


Bathing & Grooming Questions

The Social Worker may not ask you a lot of questions. They may just ask “Do you need any help with bathing or grooming?” Before answering, here’s a few questions you can ask yourself:

💮 Do you ever need or get: Help getting in and out of bath? help washing your hair? Someone to set up your shower chair and help operate the handheld shower? Do you have trouble reaching your feet or back when bathing?

💮 Do you ever need or get: Help brushing your teeth? help washing your face? clipping your nails? brushing your hair?

💮 Do your hands shake due to your illness or side effects with medications? Are there times when you are unable to do things like clip nails, put toothpaste on toothbrush, etc?

💮 Do you need to be monitored for safety while bathing? Do you have a history of falls, fainting, dizzy spells or blacking out? Do you lose balance? Have you had an injuries from falls?

💮 Do you have any difficulties sensing water temperature? Are you at risk for burns if not supervised?

💮 Do you miss bathing or skip baths because of your symptoms? Would having assistance allow you to bath more often?

💮 Do you have days when you do not brush your teeth or times when you do not wash your hands? Would having assistance change this?

💮 Do you have memory or cognitive problems (due to your illness or medication side effects)? Do you miss brushing your teeth or grooming because you forgot or lost track of times and days? Would having someone with you help make sure this gets done every day?

💮 Tip: After you are approved, your aide can assist you with cleaning your house. However, you will not get approved based on needing help with household cleaning. For your assessment, it’s important to let them know if there is any way you need help with cleaning your own body, personal bathing, and grooming.


Dressing Questions

The Social Worker may not ask you a lot of questions. They may just ask “Do you need any help with dressing?” Before answering, here’s a few questions you can ask yourself:

💮 Do you ever need or get: help with buttons or zippers? help with socks and shoes? help with coats and sweaters? help with layering and un-layering?

💮 Would you benefit from help with putting on compression stockings or orthotic braces or other medical devices?

💮 Do you ever have days where you do not change clothes because of your symptoms? Would having someone assist you allow you to change clothes more often?

💮 Tip: After you are approved, your aide can assist you with laundry. However, you will not get approved based on needing help with laundry. For your assessment, it’s important to let them know if there is any way you need help with the act of dressing.


Mobility Questions 

The Social Worker may not ask you a lot of questions. They may just ask “Do you need any help with walking or mobility?” Before answering, here’s a few questions you can ask yourself:

💮 Do you ever need or get: Someone to walk next to you or hold onto you for balance and safety? Someone to help orient and direct you if you become disoriented?

💮 Do you ever need or get: Someone to push a wheelchair? Someone to help you operate or navigate your electric wheelchair or mobility device?

💮 Do you ever need or get: Someone to help you maintain, repair and charge your mobility devices? Someone to help fold and store devices out of the way when not in use? Someone to bring you or hand you your cane or devices if you drop them?

💮 If you have any history with falls it’s very helpful to mention this. If you have any problems with dizziness or balance, it’s very helpful to mention this.

💮 Tip: After you are approved, your aide can assist you with shopping and errands. However, you will not get approved based on needing help with shopping and errands. For your assessment, it’s important to let them know if there is any way you need help with your personal mobility.


Transferring Questions

The Social Worker may not ask you a lot of questions. They may just ask “Do you need any help with transferring?” Before answering, here’s a few questions you can ask yourself:

💮 Do you ever need or get: Someone to help you get from bed to couch? someone to help you get in and out of bed?

💮 Do you ever need or get: Someone to help you get in and out of wheelchair?

💮 If you have any history of falls or lost balance it’s very helpful to mention this.

💮 If you ever need weight-bearing assistance (where someone physically helps support some of your weight), it’s helpful to mention this.


Feeding & Drinking Questions

The Social Worker may not ask you a lot of questions. They may just ask “Do you need any help with feeding or drinking?” Before answering, here’s a few questions you can ask yourself:

💮 Do you ever need or get: Someone to help you sit up or prop up or reposition in bed so that you can eat?

💮 Do you ever need or get: Someone to pick up silverware if you drop it?

💮 Do you ever need or get: Someone to lift or hold up glasses or water bottles so you can drink? someone to open cartons and pour drinks?

💮 Do you ever need or get: someone to hold forks or spoons to help you eat?Someone to cut food?

💮 Do you have any problems with your teeth, jaw, or mouth that makes eating difficult or painful? Is there any kind of assistance from another person that helps make eating easier for you?

💮 Do you have a feeding tube or use any special medical devices while eating and need assistance with this process?

💮 If you’ve had any problems with choking or gagging while eating and need someone to be near you for safety it’s very helpful to mention this.

💮 Have you had any weight loss because of not being able to regularly access food? Do you have any history of malnutrition or risk for malnutrition?

💮 Have you ever been diagnosed with dehydration? Are you at risk for dehydration because you have trouble regularly getting water, drinking water, or lifting bottles?

💮 Do you have trouble with memory or cognitive problems? Do you get dehydrated because you lost track of days or times and didn’t drink or eat?

💮 Do you ever miss meals or not eat? Do you ever go without water? Would having more assistance help you get more regular food and water?

💮 Tip: After you are approved, your aide can assist you with cooking. However, you will not get approved based on needing help with cooking. For your assessment, it’s important to let them know if there is any way you need help with the act of eating.


Toilet Questions

The Social Worker may not ask you a lot of questions. They may just ask “Do you need any help with toilet?” Before answering, here’s a few questions you can ask yourself:

💮 Do you ever need or get: someone to help you use a bedpan or pee jar?

💮 Do you ever need or get: Someone to help you walk to the bathroom, sit down or stand up from the toilet?

💮 Do you ever need or get: someone to help you with your buttons so you can use toilet?

💮 Do you ever need or get: Someone nearby to monitor for safety/falls when your symptoms are bad?

💮 Do you ever have accidents or not make it to the toilet in time?

💮 Do you ever need help with clean up after accidents or after using the toilet?

💮 Tip: This question can be embarrassing and uncomfortable. It takes a lot of courage to be honest and talk about this. The first time is the hardest. It will get easier. Try your best to be brave and just think how happy you will be when you get the care you need.


Thanks for Reading

🌸 This page is part of the free online guide: The Self-Advocacy Guide to State Home Aides

🌸 Art on this page by Robin Mead and Elizabeth D’Angelo.

🌸 Page Updated: 10/1/19

🌸 To get daily updates on helpful disability services, and low income programs, follow us on Facebook: The Sleepy Girl Guide.

🌸 Please comment below with stories, ideas, questions or suggestions. Please let us know if any links on this page stop working. Please share this page with others by pressing one of these magic little buttons:

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