Recognizing when a loved one may need additional help can play a huge roll in their quality of life and could make all the difference when it comes to avoiding an emergency. Here are a few things to look for when deciding if it is time to seek assistance.
1. Spoiled or rotten food in the kitchen
We have all let food go bad at one time or another but an excessive amount of rotten food may signify that your loved one is either unable to safely get to the grocery store or is unaware they needs to make a trip. It may also mean they are not recognizing when food has gone bad. Even worse they may be eating rotten food, or not eating at all.
2. The home is messy and basic maintenance gets ignored.
It can be as simple as a sink full of dishes, stacks of unopened mail or an overgrown lawn. Aging can make it increasingly difficult to keep up basic household tasks. Memory issues or dementia often contribute to the deferred maintenance and unpaid bills as the individual may not recognize or remember the need to take action. Unsanitary conditions can of course lead to additional health issues and clutter can easily increase the risk of falling.
3. Neglecting self care.
Unless you are visiting regularly it may be more difficult to notice signs like not eating regularly, weight loss, not changing cloths and skipping medications. Physical limitations, dementia, social isolation and depression are just a few of the underlying factors that may contribute to these issues. Identifying these warning signs and talking with your loved one about their needs or struggles can make a huge difference in their quality of life.
4. Difficulty standing and walking or falling during everyday activities.
Nearly one third of adults over the age of 65 will experience a fall. The medical costs associated with fall related injuries exceeds $31 billion annually in the United States and this cost is likely to increase as our population ages. Falling is the number one cause of unintentional injury among the elderly and approximately 10% of these falls result in significant injury leading to additional falling incidents or admission to a nursing facility. Fear of falling can lead to a lack of confidence and social isolation.
5. Social Isolation.
Most people need a certain amount of social interaction to feel happy with their lives. Many of the factors mentioned above could lead a person to withdraw from social interaction but even those who may be perfectly capable of keeping up with all the normal activities of daily living may suffer from isolation or depression. Warning signs include rarely leaving the house or withdrawing from social activities they formerly enjoyed.
Recognizing and combating these issues can make all the difference in the quality of life for seniors. How to approach these needs can be as varied and nuanced as the individual themselves. With so many options available it can be difficult to know where to start. As with most things having a plan in place before it becomes an emergency will relieve a great deal of stress for everyone involved.