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.
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.
Missed Medication: Missed doses and medication mistakes can lead to very serious medical complications.
Mysterious Dent: Look for evidence of parking or speeding tickets, fender-benders, dents and scratches on the senior’s car.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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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