Warning Signs that Help Is Needed in Keeping Seniors Safe
It’s the holiday season once again, which means it’s also time for the “holiday reality check.” If you haven’t seen your elderly loved ones in a while, now is a great time to take note of how your senior loved ones are doing. With frenzied schedules or long distances separating families for so much of the year, subtle (or not-so-subtle) signals can easily be overlooked. Be on the lookout for the following red flags that additional care may be necessary in keeping seniors safe, and remember that looking for warning signs is not for the purposes of judgment or complaint; it’s a check for wellness, wellbeing and safety.
Physical appearance: A disheveled appearance of a senior loved one may be noticed during a holiday visit. Failure to maintain daily cleanliness routines such as showering, tooth brushing and other basic grooming may point to health problems such as dementia, depression, or physical impairments. Look to see if clothes are clean and if the senior appears to be maintaining good grooming habits.
Weight reduction: At the dinner table, the senior’s appetite may appear to be just fine through the holidays, but noticeable weight loss without trying can be a sign that something’s wrong. For older people, weight loss might be related to many issues, such as trouble with cooking or loss of smell or taste. In addition, weight loss is a sign of a more serious underlying condition, such as malnourishment, dementia, depression, or even cancer.
Within the home: Any significant modifications in the way things are done around the senior’s house could provide clues to health. For instance, scorched pots could indicate forgetting about food cooking on the stove. Ignored housework could be a sign of depression, dementia, or other problems. Check to see if the lights are functional, the heat is on, the bathrooms are clean, and no clutter is obstructing the walkways of the house.
If you detect signs like an unkempt home, unexplained weight loss, or other general temperament changes, talk to your loved one about care choices. While it may perhaps seem easier to delay challenging discussions until after the holidays, it’s much better not to wait until a real crisis occurs. Be logical with your expectations, and realize that the senior may be opposed to the conversation initially. The essential thing at this time is to open the lines of communication.
Need help starting the home care conversation with a loved one this holiday season? Contact the Chicago area in home caregiver professionals at Home & Hearth Caregivers at 800-349-0663 today for information on keeping seniors safe with our professional home care services.