Lately, it seems like your elderly parents are having some trouble keeping up with everyday tasks – there’s spoiled food in the fridge, Mom missed her doctor appointment and Dad has had some minor, but concerning, falls. While these incidents may not seem like a huge deal, they could be signs your aging loved ones need some assistance. Here are some things to watch for when visiting seniors.
Condition of Home
Is it more messy and cluttered than usual? Are prescriptions not being picked up from the pharmacy? According to the Joint Center for Housing Studies of Harvard University (JCHS), among households aged 80 and older, 71 percent have what’s known as “household activity limitations.” These are difficulties with tasks such as:
- Meal preparation
- Grocery shopping
- Using the telephone
- Taking medication
- Money management
Ask your parents questions about their daily routines: What does a typical day look like? Do they have any trouble getting to and from appointments or going to the grocery store? Are bills being paid on time? Difficulty completing any of these tasks can be subtle indications someone could benefit from help at home.
Physical Appearance and Mobility
Poor hygiene, noticeable weight loss, incontinence, and clothing that is worn repeatedly, dirty or inappropriate for the weather can be signs someone is struggling with self-care. Ask older adults about their quality of sleep: Are they having trouble getting a good night’s rest? Are they forgetting to eat meals? Is laundry piling up because the washer and dryer are in the basement and they are avoiding stairs? Walk with them to the bathroom and ask if they have difficulties getting into the tub, or on and off the toilet.
Studies show most older adults want to live in their own home for as long as possible. However, if someone has difficulty climbing stairs, getting in and out of bed, or bathing, this becomes a challenge.
Falls are also a major concern. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), every year more than one in four older adults has a fall. In addition, falling once doubles one’s chance of falling again. Fall-related injuries and broken bones can make it difficult for someone to live on their own. Trouble with balance or unusual bruises and cuts could be clues someone is falling.
Emotional and Cognitive Behavior
Does your loved one seem more confused, forgetful or agitated? Is communication difficult? Changes in someone’s personality and behaviors can be warning signs they may need more help. You may also notice mood swings, increased impulsiveness, withdrawal from family and friends, and loss of judgment and concentration. Certain changes may also be signs of dementia. If you suspect Alzheimer’s disease or another form of dementia, make an appointment with a primary care physician and ask for an evaluation.
While home modifications and assistive devices can help keep seniors safe at home, older adults may also benefit from in-home care. To learn more about our services, call 800-886-4044 to schedule an in-home consultation. In addition, many of our offices offer home safety checks and fall risk assessments.
To learn about in-home care, download our e-book: The Ultimate Home Care Planning Guide.