Are you worried about your loved one? Have you noticed changes in their behaviour or appearance? Are you unsure if your loved one needs help to stay in their home? If so, there are questions you can ask yourself to evaluate their situation.
Seniors often provide us with clues to changes in their capabilities. Being observant when visiting and listening and watching for warning signs such as forgetfulness, housekeeping being ignored, and poor personal hygiene is very important. Changes in these areas can be key indicators that your family member may be in need of assistance or additional care.
Losing weight may be an indication of poor nutritional habits, or of forgetting to eat meals on regular basis. Checking the refrigerator and cupboards for spoiled or expired foods on a regular basis is a must. Check to make sure their pantry is stocked with a variety of healthy nutritional foods that they are capable of preparing. Observe how your loved one moves about the kitchen to ensure safety and check for pots that have been scorched or damages to cords of countertop appliances that may have come in contact with heat sources.
Changes in personal hygiene are signs to watch for that may indicate that your loved one needs care and assistance. Are there food stains on their clothing? Do they wear the same clothing more than one day? Is their laundry hamper always empty? Are they getting out of their night clothes during the day? Do their teeth appear clean? The inability to care for one self is something that can happen gradually. If your loved one always has makeup on or is generally clean shaven and these routines change over time they may need some help with their hygiene.
Being observant and taking note of changes is important. Household clutter can be hazardous to seniors and put them at an increased risk for falls in addition to being an indicator that they are in need of help. Garbage piling up, excessive papers or clutter can indicate that they can’t recall garbage collection dates or that they are uncomfortable venturing out to the curb alone for fear of falling. Excessive dirt or dust or even dishes that aren’t very clean in the cupboard may indicate vision impairment as well. They may just not be able to see the condition of their home well enough to take care of the cleaning needs properly.
Is your loved one keeping up to date with current events? Losing track of the time or date, or losing interest in outside activities can be an indication of changes in their behaviour. These changes could be signs of something other than “getting older”. These changes could be signs of something serious such as depression. Monitoring medications is important too. If your loved one is responsible for taking their own medications look at the date that the pills were refilled from the pharmacy and estimate how many pills should be left in the bottle. If it appears that more are there than should be this would indicate that some dosages have been missed. Forgetting to take medication can be very serious. Having your loved one’s medication switched to blister pack format rather than bulk bottles might make the task of taking their medications easier for them. This would also be useful for you to monitor the medications at a glance. Speaking with you loved one on a regular basis even if over the telephone can be useful when monitoring them for changes. Asking questions about what they had at their last meal or bringing up a topic that was discussed during the last phone conversation can be a way to assess their memory and any changes that may be occurring.
If you are concerned about a loved one, contact Blue Sky Personal Support Workers for more information.