Do you have a loved one aged 65 or older who lives at home? If so, then you probably naturally worry about whether or not they are taking their medications, managing their finances appropriately or driving safely.
It’s natural for older adults to experience age-related changes that may affect everyday life. Hearing and eyesight naturally decline with age. Bones lose density and muscles lose mass. Cognitive processing slows and joints become stiff and sore.
These changes could affect a person’s ability to live on their own without help. For example, a senior with stiff joints and muscle weakness might have trouble cleaning their home or cooking. A person with poor vision and cognitive decline could be unsafe behind the wheel of a car.
Older adults often value their independence and pride. They may not want to ask for help or admit to a son or daughter that they are struggling with certain tasks. Also, a person with mild dementia may not be aware that they are having problems.
So, how do you know when an older adult needs help? Fortunately, there are some telltale signs that indicate that an older person needs help. Here they are:
#1 Weight Loss
If you notice that your loved one has lost weight — especially if they are losing weight quickly or unintentionally, it could indicate a problem. It could indicate that they are forgetting to eat, not able to grocery shop anymore or is having trouble chewing food. Unintentional weight loss can also be a sign of health issues. If your loved one has lost weight recently if it’s a good idea to talk to his or her doctor. Their physician can determine if the problem is due to a medical cause. They can also tell you if they think that your loved one may need additional assistance at home.
#2 Isolation and Withdrawal
If your loved one has stopped attending activities that they used to enjoy, it could indicate a problem. Have they stopped going to church all of a sudden? Or, are they making excuses for why they can’t attend family functions? Have a talk with them and try to determine the reason that they have stopped doing activities. Have they lost interest in normally enjoyable things? This could indicate depression, which is common in older adults and should be immediately treated by a physician. Or, are they having trouble getting around? If so, then explore options that might be able to help them get around easier and safer, such as a rollator or mobility scooter. These can be very good options for seniors struggling with mobility issues. However, the safety of their use should always be discussed with your loved one’s doctor.
#3 Unkempt Appearance Or House
Have your parents suddenly stop taking care of their hygiene? Does it appear that they don’t clean themselves regularly? Are the bathrooms all of a sudden filthy when they used to be clean? If you notice a change and hygiene or cleanliness, it might indicate that your loved one can’t do what they physically used to be able to do. Or, they could be forgetting, which could signify a problem with memory. Talk with them and try to determine what is at the root of the problem. Gently explore ways that they could get help. Maybe they could hire a housekeeper or personal aide to help out.
#4 Unpaid Bills and Disconnect Notices
Is your loved one calling you on a regular basis to ask for money because they forgot to pay a bill? When you show up at their house, is there a pile of unpaid bills lying around? This could mean that they are experiencing a cognitive decline. It is time to talk to their physician to determine if an assessment is needed and what other help might be available.