If you have an aging loved one, you want him or her to be able to enjoy living independently for as long as possible. However, if your loved one experiences a decrease in his or her health or abilities, he or she may be hesitant to ask for help or even try to hide his or her problems. When you visit your elderly relative, take the opportunity to assess his or her living situation as well as his or physical and mental health. Keep an eye out for these red flags that could indicate your loved one needs assistance to continue aging in place safely and comfortably.
1. Indications of Abuse
One of the most important things to look for is any sign of physical, emotional, or financial abuse. More than 90 percent of elder abuse is committed by family members, particularly adult children. If your loved one has bruises, injuries he or she can’t explain, or sudden personality changes, these could be signs of physical or emotional abuse.
You should also be cautious about any people who have come into your loved one’s life recently. Someone could abuse your parent financially by borrowing money without paying it back, stealing money, or taking funds from your loved one’s bank, credit card, or retirement accounts. If you have access to your loved one’s finances, check his or her accounts for any unusual activity.
2. Changes in Your Loved One’s Home
If you notice the condition of your loved one’s home is gradually going downhill or it’s messier and more cluttered than normal, this could be a sign your parent needs help with housekeeping tasks and basic home maintenance. Stacks of dirty dishes in the sink or piles of unwashed laundry on the floor could indicate your parent may no longer be able to handle daily chores independently. Check the refrigerator and pantry for expired items, and make sure your loved one has plenty of fresh, nutritious food on hand. In addition, check the expiration dates on the labels on your parent’s medications to ensure he or she is taking them correctly.
3. Sudden Weight Loss or Gain
Sudden changes in weight can signify a variety of health conditions, from minor issues to serious illnesses. If your loved one is quickly gaining weight, he or she may have diabetes, while rapid weight loss could be a sign of cancer or dementia. The aging process and certain medications can alter the way food tastes and cause your loved one’s appetite to decrease, resulting in your parent failing to get proper nutrition. Abrupt changes in your parent’s weight could also be caused by depression, fatigue, arthritis, or other issues that make it challenging to shop for groceries and prepare healthy meals.
A professional caregiver can do the grocery shopping and help your loved one prepare healthy meals. In Huntsville, at-home care providers can benefit aging adults in a variety of ways. From cooking nutritious meals to offering timely medication reminders, the dedicated caregivers at Home Care Assistance are available to help your elderly loved one 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
4. Mobility Issues
Look for changes in your parent’s mobility, coordination, and balance. If your loved one is reluctant to walk, has an unsteady gait, or has obvious pain when he or she moves, he or she may be developing muscle, joint, or neurological issues. These issues may cause your parent to start to avoid exercising, going up and down stairs, participating in daily activities, or leaving the house because he or she is afraid of being injured in a fall. However, your parent needs to stay active to remain healthy, and a lack of activity can make the muscles and bones weaker, leading to an increased risk of falling. Talk with your loved one’s doctor about possible solutions, including pain medication, mobility aids, physical therapy, and hiring a home caregiver.
If you have a senior loved one who needs help maintaining a high quality of life while aging in place, reach out to Home Care Assistance, a leading provider of senior home care families can rely on. All of our caregivers are bonded, licensed, and insured, there are no hidden fees, and we never ask our clients to sign long-term contracts.
5. Changes in Mood
Observe your loved one’s behavior and mood for any noticeable changes. Severe issues such as delirium, confusion, and drastic behavior changes could be symptoms of dementia or a urinary tract infection, and your loved one should see a doctor immediately.
Depression and anxiety are common in aging adults, and they can cause symptoms such as fatigue, memory problems, decreased appetite, difficulty sleeping, and social withdrawal. Social isolation can raise the risk of a variety of health conditions, including obesity, decreased immunity, high blood pressure, Alzheimer’s disease, and cognitive decline. Anxiety and depression, which often occur simultaneously, can drastically reduce quality of life, so if you notice any signs that might indicate these conditions in your parent, have him or her evaluated by a physician.
6. Lack of Personal Hygiene
If you notice body odor or the smell of urine when you’re near your loved one or you observe a significant difference in his or her appearance (for example, soiled clothing, dirty or untrimmed fingernails, or unwashed hair), he or she may be having difficulty keeping up with personal hygiene. Bad breath can indicate dehydration, dry mouth caused by certain medications, or a lack of attention to oral hygiene. If you see any of these signs in your loved one, he or she may need assistance with bathing, toothbrushing, and other tasks involved in maintaining healthy personal hygiene.
Aging in place can present a few unique challenges for older adults. Some only require part-time assistance with exercise or meal preparation, while others are living with serious illnesses and benefit more significantly from receiving live-in care. Huntsville, AL, Home Care Assistance are leaders in the elderly in-home care industry for good reason. We tailor our care plans based on each senior’s individual needs, our caregivers continue to receive updated training in senior care as new developments arise, and we also offer comprehensive care for seniors with Alzheimer’s, dementia, and Parkinson’s. Call one of our friendly Care Managers at (256) 716-9940 to schedule a free consultation.