October 29, 2013
As you pile the gifts into the back of the car and check off any last-minute errands from your list before heading home for the holidays, you might also want to prepare to handle any changes you notice in your aging loved ones. Keep your eyes open for these seven common issues that can threaten a senior’s independence.
- Pain. Does your mother now pull up a stool by the sink to peel the potatoes? Does she wince when she bends down? Does she complain about a bad back? If you notice any red flags, try gently asking her, “How long has your back been hurting you?” Even if she tries to pretend she’s managing fine, consider helping her schedule a doctor’s appointment “just to be sure.”
- Memory. Does she have trouble recalling events from that morning? Has she told you the same story over and over? You may want to keep a list of concerns to bring up with her primary care physician or neurologist.
- Depression. If you see any hints of irritability, sadness or sleep difficulties, these could be signs of depression. Depression is common among seniors, and any related concerns should be checked out by a doctor or mental health care professional.
- Social Engagement. Ask your mother to tell you about her friends. Social seniors generally have a healthier and more optimistic outlook on life. If she doesn’t have a strong social network, look into community activities that she may enjoy or companionship services.
- Safety. If your mother has more difficulty walking, make sure she has a cane, walker or the proper support; remove throw rugs or other potential tripping hazards; and look into installing grab bars and no-slip strips where needed. If you’re worried about falls or other safety issues, look into getting a medical alert system or hiring a CAREGiverSM from the Home Instead Senior Care® network who can check up on her frequently.
- Housekeeping. As seniors experience declining health, they may have more trouble keeping up with the housework. If you notice the house looks more unkempt than usual, consider senior care services that include light housekeeping.
- Medication. Try to notice if your senior loved one is taking the appropriate pills at mealtimes or before bed and if she is keeping the pillbox organized. If she is not reliable with a medication schedule, you may want to look into home care services that provide medication reminders.
How to Address the Issues You Uncover
Even if you meet with some resistance when gently confronting a loved one about potential issues you may observe during your visit, it is in both your and your loved one’s best interest to find a solution that can help keep him or her safe and independent at home.
If you’re unsure about the best way to diplomatically discuss issues with your loved one, download a conversation starter guide.
For any physical or mental health concerns you may have, consulting your aging loved one’s physician might be the best thing to do. It’s better to address a concern early than wait until it becomes a health emergency.
If you get the sense that your loved one needs more assistance with tasks of daily living, look into local in-home care services. The Home Instead Senior Care network offers free care consultations that allow you and your family to sit down and discuss care options with a home care professional, without you having to pay for the consultation or committing to services. Get in touch with your local office to schedule your free consultation.
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