Top Ten Signs Your Aging Parents Need Help Safety Tips for Families with Senior Loved Ones from Sharron L. Spotts, Certified Senior Advisor (CSA)®
dult children should be aware of any changes in their parents’ a tudes or behavior—changes that are o en undetectable over the telephone. There are clear warning signs that some type of interven on is needed. Caregiving for an aging parent, spouse, domes c partner or close friend can happen in a number of ways. O en, a sudden crises or hospitaliza on will unexpectedly throw you into the role of caregiver. You probably will have no previous prepara on for the tough challenges and responsibili es you will face, almost instantly.
However, most of the me a series of small but unse ling mishaps and warning signs are present―and few of us are trained in recognizing them. Paying a en on to some of the warning signs may prevent a crisis from occurring. Let’s take a look at some of them. These are the top ten. Contact us for a complete list if you feel you need more informa on. 1. Recent falls and accidents. Mul ple falls or accidents and signs of bruising in a short period of me can indicate mobility problems. Increased emergency room visits or doctor appointments are a red flag your parent may be developing serious safety issues. If he or she has had three or more falls in two or three months, you should need to be concerned. 2. Diﬃculty walking & ge ng up. Walking unsteadily on level ground, complaining of dizziness and having trouble ge ng in and out of chairs or bed are all alarm signals. Other signs--diﬃculty walking up and down stairs, trouble ge ng and in and out of the home, and loss of balance. All are indicators something could be wrong 3. Forge ng to take medica on and missing doctor appointments. Missing medica ons and doctor appointments is a real risk factor. Either can be caused by short-term memory loss or depression. Forge ng to take medica on can cause many physical, mental and behavioral problems. (Note: Missed appointments can some mes be simply not having transporta on, or knowing how to access ride opons.) 4. Poor grooming and personal hygiene. Declining personal hygiene is indicated by unwashed hair, dirty and broken nails, poor oral hygiene, body or urine order, unshaved face (men), discolored skin, sores on skin, wearing the same dirty clothes over and over. Your parent may just be having trouble dressing, or perhaps he or she has a fear of falling in the tub or shower. However, these indicators may be a sign of serious depression or demen a. 5. Mail and bills piling up. The simple act of opening and filing mail becomes overwhelming. Paying bills on me and managing a checking account can also become too much for a parent to handle. 6. Laundry stacking up, clu ered or unkempt house, not seeing to necessary household repairs and maintenance. Simple housekeeping chores le una ended, lawn not mowed, trash not disposed of, mail not retrieved with any regularity. These can be signs of declining physical health, onset of medical problems or just a gradual or sudden lack of interest. If your parent has always been neat and orderly, this should be of special concern.
7. Food in the refrigerator is uneaten or spoiled; lack of nutri ous food available. Shopping, cooking, and cleaning become too much trouble. A parent might eat just enough to get by, but suﬀer nutri onally. Losing weight can be another sign a parent is not ea ng a nutri ous diet. 8. Recent driving accidents or near misses. New dents or scrapes on the car can indicate spacial percep on problems. Signs of re damage on corners of lawn, dented garbage cans, increased traﬃc ckets, ge ng lost when driving—these are just a few of the many signs a person is at risk while driving. Since this is such a serious and emo onally loaded issue, we oﬀer a free pamphlet on warning signs that driving may be an issue. 9. Inappropriate behavior, clothing or speech. You may hear about this from a neighbor, someone who has no ced that your parent is not dressing appropriately for the weather, for instance. That’s a sign that he or she might be confused. 10. Social isola on; sudden personality and mood changes, forge ulness, confusion and lack of energy, diﬃculty in communica ng. Changed rela onship pa erns with friends and loved ones. Mood swings. Normally cheery Aunt Harrie suddenly becomes morose, argumenta ve, irritable. Dad won’t play golf any longer. Mom has withdrawn from her clubs and social outlets. Dras cally diﬀerent moods or behavior pa erns can be signs of depression or other health concerns, especially demen a. This is me to visit the doctor.
If you suspect time has come for your loved one to have help: DON’T WAIT! One thing to remember is – don’t wait too long! With early planning, it is easier when a crisis occurs. Prior planning makes all the diﬀerence. Here are some things on which to take ac on:
• Make an appointment with the senior’s primary care physician to discuss the changes you have observed. • Consult with an elder law a orney to ensure that your loved one has a long-term care plan in place. • Review the living situa on—determine if it is safe. Call in a geriatric care manager, home care specialist and professional elder care organizer to help you make the assessment and safety proof the home.
• Determine how senior can pay for care. • Review or prepare the estate plan: ∗ ∗ ∗ ∗
Will Trust DURABLE Power of A orney: Financial AND Medical Advanced medical health-care direc ve or living will (end of live decisions)
Resistance to any kind of change is common especially among the senior popula on. That’s where having an objec ve third party involved can be helpful. Home care professionals can make this me of transi on easier for everyone. Even if the adult children live out of the area a care manager can be their eyes and ears so a parent’s everyday wellbeing is less of a worry.
Call for a FREE geriatric care planning consultation.
916.772.0641 Oﬃce 916.899.1251 Cell Roseville West Services | 701 Sawyer Court | Roseville, CA 95747 | sspo firstname.lastname@example.org | www.rosevillewest.com