No one knows your parents or loved ones like you do – so you will likely be one of the first to notice any decline in them that may warrant bringing in a caregiver. This last year of COVID-19 has been especially challenging in that many of us have been more isolated from our elderly loved ones, and therefore may have missed certain hints that more help was needed. If you will be seeing any of your loved ones over the holidays, this is the season to be on the lookout for common warning signs that may signal trouble:
When you visit your parents at home, is their house dirty, cluttered, or more disorganized than usual? Do you notice that important household items (such as smoke alarms or broken lightbulbs) are not being addressed, or that trash is piling up? Are they wearing dirty clothes or do they seem disheveled? Does their personal hygiene (bad breath or body odor) suddenly leave much to be desired? Do you see new dents or dings on their car? Answering yes to any of these is a red flag.
When your loved ones start getting calls from collections, bounced checks, or late payment notices, it’s time to take notice. If they start misplacing their keys or wallet – or even worse, start forgetting to take medications – it’s probably time to get some help. It’s equally important to be sure they’re not missing any important appointments, and that they’re still able to keep track of time. Keep an eye on whether they suddenly seem uncertain or confused about how to complete daily tasks like laundry, vacuuming, or washing dishes. Make sure they are opening their mail regularly. Monitor whether they are remembering to eat regularly, whether their shelves are stocked with healthy food, and whether they remember to throw out expired food. Look into any failure to return phone calls to friends and family members.
Be on the lookout for any changes in attitudes, agitation, or even extreme mood swings. If you see that your loved one seems to be feeling depressed or has little energy, start asking some questions. Pay attention if they seem to lose interest in activities they once enjoyed, or if they no longer seem to have any drive or motivation.
Decline in Health
If you start noticing sudden unexplained weight loss or observe poor dieting habits (such as only eating prepackaged foods), take note. If your loved one is struggling to stand or finding it challenging to sit down, that’s a sign that help may be needed. Keep an eye out for any changes in sleeping patterns, such as sleeping all day. The appearance of frequent injuries, bruises, scratches, or cuts without any explanation is another reason for concern. If your parent is suddenly having difficulty performing activities of daily living such as bathing, dressing, grooming, eating, or toileting, it is time for more assistance.
Our aging loved ones want to remain in control of their lives for as long as possible. After all, nobody likes losing independence! It is not easy to admit the need for help, which is why it’s usually the responsibility of family members to recognize the signs that a loved one might need more support. By regularly monitoring your parents’ physical and mental abilities and looking into your options for when they do need more help, you will be better prepared when the time comes to step in with assistance.
If you find that daily supportive care is needed for your loved one, we at Cahoon Care would be happy to talk with you. By hiring help at home, your elderly parent can stay in the comfort of their home for as long as is safely possible.