If you spent time over the holidays with aging loved ones, you might have noticed significant changes in their physical and mental health.
Most of us do not want to see that our senior loved ones are beginning to have problems. They might not admit it, and they might even get angry if you suggest that they may need more help. Since it is hard to accept, and harder still to confront, it remains the elephant in the room.
But recognizing the changes that need attention allows you to have open discussions and learn their desires, which will help you make wiser choices as things get worse. As a professional caregiver, I would urge you to look for these changes:
▪ Lapses in housekeeping. Ask questions if their well-kept home has begun to be cluttered. Maybe they have been busy, or are more tired than usual, or maybe they are becoming overwhelmed with daily chores.
▪ Bills not being paid. If the checking account is messed up or bills are not being paid, this can be a troubling sign that your loved ones may be overwhelmed and not thinking as clearly as they used to.
▪ Weight loss. Especially after the death of a spouse, shopping, cooking and preparing food become too much trouble. You may notice that there is no food in the refrigerator or only spoiled food.
▪ Dirty clothes or poor hygiene. Either they forget to change clothes or they put on the same clothes every day.
▪ Memory loss. Signs of problems include missing doctor’s appointments, forgetting to take medications, missing church when they have been regular church-goers all may indicate a problem.
▪ Strange behavior. You should look out for odd conversations, signs of paranoia, accidentally taking too much medication, making phone calls at odd hours, unusual fears and nervousness.
And don’t forget your loved ones’ social life. Are they visiting with friends or participating in community senior activities, or they spending most of their time at home alone?
If your loved ones have medical issues, you should check with their physician. But professional caregivers can help with everything from meal preparation, grocery shopping, running errands and medication reminders to bathing, grooming, arts and crafts activities, taking walks to help with physical and mental wellness and taking your loved ones to doctor appointments, church and other social outings.
Carol D. Waldo