Caregiver sits with elderly person

How to Tell if a Senior Needs Assistance

Although aging is a gradual process it sometimes seems as if it happens all at once. Maybe your parents were fine last time you saw them, but now something seems off. Aging parents are often in denial so you need to pay attention to the finer details. Let’s go through a checklist of things to keep an eye on if you think there may be a problem.

1. From the moment you pull up to an elderly loved one’s house; you’ll be able to tell if something is amiss. Is their yard unkempt, snow unshoveled, or newspapers still in the driveway? These signs may seem harmless, but could point to a deeper problem. If yard work is the only thing that’s neglected then perhaps they just need help with that area, but chances are there will be other warning signs.

2. Is the inside of the house unclean or full of clutter? This could be a sign that they’re unable to perform the chores necessary to remain independent. Living in an unclean environment never has a successful outcome. Not only is it unsanitary, but clutter is also one of the leading causes of falling.

3. When you hug them do they feel frailer or significantly skinnier? If so, it could mean they are no longer able to grocery shop or prepare food by themselves. In addition, check for expired food in the refrigerator. Getting a food-borne illness in advanced age can prove deadly.

4. Are there expired prescriptions or missing medication? This is an extremely important area to keep an eye on because medication management is crucial.

5. Is there damage on their automobile? This may mean that it is no longer safe for them to drive.

6. Are they having trouble standing up from a sitting position, getting out of the car, or walking in general? If your loved one is having trouble moving around their home that’s a recipe for disaster. A fall generally precipitates a quick decline so falling should be avoided at all costs. See here for how to fall proof a home.

7. Do you notice unexplained mood swings or a new level of forgetfulness? This could indicate early signs of dementia. Obviously there is some natural forgetfulness with age, it comes with the territory, but if it’s excessive it’s best to seek professional help for a diagnosis.

8. Keep an eye on hygiene. Decreased hygiene could point to an inability to perform once familiar ADLs.

Don’t be afraid to reach out for guidance from medical professionals, friends, family, and anyone else who is close to you. If you notice any inconsistencies in your loved one’s behavior or living arrangements do not ignore the warning signs. The quicker you plan, the easier it is in the long run.

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