When you live far away from your family, making holiday trips to see them is exciting. Keeping in touch with family is easy through phone calls and Skype, but there’s nothing like an in-person visit to really see how they are doing. While staying with your senior loved one, you may notice some changes in their well being. How do you know that your elder relative needs help? Here are some specific things to look for.
Condition of the Home
Is your elder loved one’s home in its normal state of cleanliness and tidiness? Are there repair jobs or other projects awaiting your attention? Take a look around the inside and outside of the house to check for safety hazards and any wear and tear. If the house is in bad condition, it could mean that your loved one does not have the strength or energy to keep up with the maintenance.
Many elderly people don’t want to admit outright that they need help because they want to put on a strong front for their children and grandchildren. The need for help may embarrass them, and they may fear having to move. While they might not express their challenges directly, they may offer some clues in what they say. They may change the subject when their health comes up or complain about the doctor or the number of medications they need to take. You may also notice memory lapses. Listen to what your loved one says (and does not say) to get a better idea about their health.
Some of the most glaring changes are the physical ones. Where mom’s hair was done at all times, it is now unkempt. Grandpa has trouble getting around the house. Significant weight loss or weight gain and even changes in skin color may indicate more serious issues.
Well balanced meals may have been normal while you were growing up, so it is strange to find the kitchen empty of food. The refrigerator or pantry may also contain old or rotten food. Proper nutrition is one of the first things to go when seniors aren’t feeling well. Sometimes it is easier for seniors to go without eating than to go to the trouble of cooking. If you are concerned about your loved one’s nutrition, talk with them about the importance of eating healthy food.
Talk to the Neighbors
If the place where your loved one lives is a long time residence, chances are they may have good relationships with their neighbors. While you are in town, stop by to say hello and ask how your loved one is doing. Neighbors will likely be truthful about anything they have noticed.
Pets and Plants
Are the plants wilting or does the dog seem skinnier or need a trip to the vet? If your aging family member can’t take care of themselves, they probably have a hard time taking care of pets and plants. Also keep in mind that your loved one might be caring for their pet instead of themselves, which is also unhealthy.
Bringing Up Getting Help
During your visit, you may notice that all is well and your elder family member is doing just fine. However, if you are concerned about their condition or their ability to live independently, it is important to let them know how you feel. This subject may be uncomfortable for both of you, so approach it carefully and respectfully. Let your family member know that you are there for them and that home care is a great solution that will let them continue to live in their home.
If you have any questions about home care, please contact your local SYNERGY HomeCare office. Our companionship, homemaking, memory care and personal care services help seniors across the country to enjoy living independently in their homes.