The next few months bring quite a few opportunities to visit with relatives. Mother's Day, Memorial Day, Father's Day, July 4th, even summer family vacations are all coming up quickly.
Sometimes these visits offer rare insights to family members as to how much their aging relative needs some help. We recently began providing care for a woman when her husband was admitted to the hospital. Their daughter was living several states away and only became aware of her mother's dementia at this unfortunate time. It turns out the father was "covering up" the mother's health quite well.
Hopefully you won't find yourself in that situation. But while you are visiting in the coming months, here are some signs you can look for to see if your loved one may need some additional elder care support to remain in their home:
- Personal hygiene not very hygienic. This can be a sign of depression, dementia, or physical lack of agility or mobility.
- Home upkeep not kept after! From trash piling up to broken windows or more.
- Bills unpaid or checkbook unbalanced.
- A reduction in social activities, either inside or outside the home.
- Noticeable changes in gait, such as unsteady or stiff patterns of walking.
- Not keeping prescriptions filled or having extra pills from forgotten doses.
- An increase in mishaps with the car such as increased dents, scratches, or even moving violations.
- Difficulty climbing stairs, either up, down, or both.
- Unable to get into or out of the bath tub or shower.
- Wearing the same clothes for days on end, often without washing them.
- A lack of sound judgment, for example leaving the stove on after a meal is prepared.
- Memory changes, such as forgetfulness or an unusual focus on certain times of their younger life.
Especially if mom and dad were always fastidious and now many of these things don't look so great, that can be a sign they can't keep up. Of course, if they never got around to balancing a checkbook, this would not be as indicative of a new problem. What is most important is to look for patterns of change. We all let something slip from time to time, but these on-going patterns are what indicate true concern.
For more information, the University of Vermont Center on Aging has some additional information.
If after your visit you think mom, dad, grandma, grandpa may truly need some elder care, you can contact us for a free assessment.