The holidays are always something to look forward to. Every year we get to take time away from our busy lives and enjoy the company of our family and friends. This is especially exciting when we don’t live very close to our family and don’t get to see them on a day-to-day basis throughout the year.
This time of year can also be difficult if you have aging parents facing health concerns. If you don’t see your parents very often it can be a shock to see how their mental health or quality of life has deteriorated since your last visit. The National Alliance of Caregiving estimated that 15% of Americans who provide senior care live one or more hours away from the person they are providing care for. But distance can’t prevent you from recognizing some significant signs and symptoms while you are visiting. You may find that your parents need more medical attention than they are currently receiving. You may also suspect they are in need of more social interaction that you realized.
Here are 5 indicators to be on the lookout for:
- Confusion In Conversation – If you notice that your loved one is seemingly confused when carrying a conversation with you, this is definitely something to keep an eye on as this could be an indicator of Alzheimer’s or Dementia. Aging adults are good about keeping confusion and difficulties to themselves for a while and will probably try to conceal it from others. Pay close attention.
- Loss Of Weight Or Appetite – Weight and/or appetite loss is one of the more obvious signs that something is wrong. Weight loss could indicate a serious health issue that requires immediate attention. Without being too pushy or making a scene, try to talk to your loved one about how they have been feeling and get an appointment scheduled with their doctor.
- Physical Instability – Aging adults that are struggling with their physical or mental health conditions tend to have coordination issues. This could be due to bone or joint conditions, or it could be a neurological problem. These mobility problems are a huge cause for concern because of the risk of falling and obtaining serious injuries. If mobility is an issue for one or both of your parents, make an appointment with their doctor to discuss what the issue is and how to address it.
- Environment and Hygiene – Look around your parents’ home environment. Is the area being kept clean? Is their expired food in the fridge or expired prescriptions in the cupboards? Are they keeping up on their own personal hygiene? Help them throw out what is no longer beneficial and talk to them about creating a plan to have a part-time home health aide that can help clean and keep things in order. This is a really great way to help ensure your parents safety.
- Emotional Challenges – Many aging adults that are having physical and mental health problems will display a different temperament and moodiness. Social withdrawal is common, as well as hostility and outbursts. If your parent or parents are beginning to show signs of anger or depression, they should be seen by a medical professional. Sometimes these symptoms simply come up due to aging, but they can also indicate major mental health concerns like Dementia and Alzheimer’s.
Just knowing these indicators can help you gauge where your parent’s physical/mental health stands, if they need to seek further medical attention, and/or if they need help with daily caretaking. Take some time during your holiday visit to monitor your parent’s behavior and take any precautions that you might need. Knowing that your family’s needs are being met will give you some peace when you return home.
If you discover more help may be needed call us to schedule an in-home evaluation where we can help answer questions and provide feedback and options.