Dec 24 Care Mission

Know the Signs

There are several "something's not right" signs that remind us – no matter how much we try – we just can't be there for our aging loved ones all the time. Learn how to spot them and understand what you can do to help.

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The Facts: When Heather saw her aging parents over the holidays, she felt unsettled. Dad couldn’t find his medications. Mom wouldn’t talk about that mysterious dent on her car. That uneasy feeling Heather had? It was her noticing signs that her aging parents may need help.

Enjoy time with your senior loved ones, but also be aware of the red flags you may notice. Here are a few common signs your aging loved one may need help.

  1. Missed Medication: Missed doses and medication mistakes can lead to very serious medical complications.

  2. Mysterious Dent: Look for evidence of parking or speeding tickets, fender-benders, dents and scratches on the senior’s car.

  3. Missed Doctor’s Appointment: While this can be a symptom of increased forgetfulness, it is often simply a result of not having transportation or not knowing how to access transportation options.

  4. Piling Mail: Seniors can feel overwhelmed by the simple task of reaching the mail box, opening and responding to daily mail, as well as balancing a checkbook, particularly if eye sight is deteriorating or if this was once the responsibility of a now-deceased spouse.

  5. Lost Walker: Anyone who has memory problems and is able to walk is at risk for wandering. Be on the lookout for the warning signs of dementia such as returning from regular walks later than usual, difficulty locating familiar, or pacing or restless movement.

  6. Piles of Laundry: Changes in housekeeping may occur simply because it is too difficult or tiring. This is especially troubling if a parent used to keep the house neat and orderly or if a now-deceased spouse was responsible for these duties.

  7. Empty Refrigerator: Seniors who suddenly find themselves alone, who have become lonely over time or are easily overwhelmed by cooking, tend not to eat properly. Their refrigerator may be nearly empty, or packed with spoiled food.

  8. Torn Shower Curtain: Damage to bathroom fixtures such as shower curtains, loose towel bars or window sills could indicate your parent is using these items as support, a potential danger if they lose their balance.

  9. Unshaven Face: Changes in appearance are very telling signs that some assistance is needed. These signs can range from unkempt hair and body odor, to unshaven faces and wearing clothing that is unclean, unchanged for days or inappropriate for the weather.

What to do.

It’s time to start observing and gathering information carefully and thoughtfully. Don’t reach a conclusion from a single observation and decide on the best solution until you have gathered information with an open mind and talked with your loved one. At the same time, having a timely conversation and taking the necessary precautions is important. 48% of home accidents experienced by seniors could have been prevented, and according to ER doctors, 61% of seniors who visit the emergency room could benefit from extra support at home.

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Community Comments

  1. Nancy Cooksey

    15 Missions Completed

    1

    My husband admits he does not like holidays and having to fit everything with the family! He certainly has blue moods during this time of year! I try to let him choose what he wants to attend and how long he wants to be gone from home! I just spoke to a dear friend on the phone who is under the weather and will have to delay her family get together due to not feeling well! We can only listen and encourage them to take care of themselves and things will work out in the end! Merry Christmas!

  2. Mark

    3 Missions Completed

    1

    My client was confused and verbally agressive, which was NOT her normal behavior (to use cuss words). I said to her, “I will send someone else to assist you in a minute.” I left the room and out of her sight. A couple minutes later I reentered the room, greeted her with a cheerful voice and said I had been sent to assist her. She responded with a smile and said, “Oh thank you. I don’t understand what I’m suppose to do.” I was then able to help her up and get her to walk to the table for her meal.
    Sometimes, just accepting the situation, and giving a few minutes for the indivual to relax is all that is needed to give great personal care for someone with dementia.

  3. Wendy

    3 Missions Completed

    1

    My sweet 7 year old dog named Susie and I visited a nursing home last week and we are visiting there again on Christmas Day with treats and snacks. The residents really enjoyed seeing her. I also posted on next door.com if anyone knew of a home bound neighbor that would like us to visit them. I’m hoping to bring some companionship to my neighbors in need

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