Elderly family members typically have a strong desire to remain independent for as long as possible. In an effort to avoid becoming a burden on loved ones and remain in control of their own lives, aging family members will avoid asking for help. For this reason, it is often our responsibility to monitor the abilities and needs of our elderly loved ones, as it is the best way to avoid a catastrophic injury from providing a wake-up call to all involved.
Keep the lines of communication open, ask questions, and most of all, observe if your aging loved ones are able to perform the following daily activities without difficulty: using the restroom, bathing, dressing, walking, sitting/standing, eating.
Look for dramatic weight loss, as this could be a sign that your loved one is having difficulty in grocery shopping for food, preparing food, and eating. Also look for signs of change in hygiene and dressing – these could be signs of difficulties in bathing, dressing and grooming.
Other signs that your aging loved one needs help:
- Bruising on the body could indicate a fall.
- Burns on the skins could indicate an incident while cooking.
- The yard of their house looks as if it has not been maintained, so maybe they can keep up with yard work the way they used to.
- The interior of the house is not orderly.
- Stains on furniture and carpeting could indicate frequent spills.
- Dents in their automobile, could be an indication that they are having trouble driving.
- Unopened mail and unpaid bills.
- An empty refrigerator or pantry.
- Angers easily
- Repetitive speech and/or memory lapses
- Other changes in personality
If you believe your loved one is experiencing dramatic difficulty in accomplishing daily tasks and could even be at risk of harm, the next step is to respectfully speak with them about their needs and care, in an attempt to find solutions that work for everyone involved. Hiring someone to help them in their home may be the best option, while others may need to move elsewhere.
These decisions are never easy, especially if a loved one is put in a position of having to leave their home, so these matters should be handled with great sensitivity and care.