The holidays this year are shaping up to be the most “normal” we have had in a long time. Now that vaccines are readily available, we are able to gather with family and spend time with our older loved ones that we may not have seen in a while. We are all so excited to gather, whether with family or friends, and enjoy a nice meal together. This is a special time of year, and we hope you are looking forward to spending it with your loved ones.
The coming season is also a great time to check in on older loved ones you may not have seen for some time. Whether they come to you, or you travel to them, there are some specific signs to keep an eye out for as they could indicate a need for more care or support.
Red Flags for Seniors:
1. Changes in their home environment
We want to be looking for things like scorched cookware (food forgotten on the stove?), spoiled food in the refrigerator, or the space being generally messier and less organized.
2. Sudden weight loss or gain
This is usually a sign of a health-related issue, lack of mobility, and/or decrease in appetite.
3. Unpaid bills
Is your loved one forgetting about their regular payments? Late notices can indicate memory issues or even financial struggle.
4. Physical Frailty
It is normal for folks to slow down a bit as they age, but pay attention if your loved one is having trouble with day-to-day movement such as climbing stairs or lack of balance while walking.
5. Mood changes
Sudden depression, anxiety, or even hyperactivity can indicate a medication issue or general lack of well-being. We want to gently discuss what may be bothering them to see how we can provide support.
6. Medication misuse
Take a look at any regular medications, you should be able count the pills and check that meds are taken daily if needed and at the specified times of day.
While we want to be sure our loved ones are safe and sound, try not to be patronizing about checking in. It’s important to protect the dignity of older adults and remember that they are entitled to live however they desire, so long it is safe. Additionally, they may feel embarrassed or self-conscious about any sign of decline. Stay away from directing your older adult, telling them what they should be doing, and try general questions such as:
· “How have you been feeling lately?”
· “I’d love to help out while I’m here, is there anything you need done?”
· “I see your medications are set out; do you feel like they have been helping?”
If any of the signs you notice feel concerning, please reach out to your local Care Advantage office. We provide licensed and bonded caregivers who engage in disease-specific training and are often able to staff a shift within 24 hours. Utilizing home care does not have to mean giving up your autonomy or dignity. We recognize and respect that caregiving is intimate work and we are confident we can find a great match to support your loved one. From bathing and dressing to offering a listening ear and transporting to appointments, we will have you covered!