The reality that we are all aging can be made quite real as our loved ones come to need structured help to maintain independence. Exactly where that threshold of independence gives way to a need for more structured support is different for every individual, but there are a few questions you can ask yourself when interacting with loved ones who may need support:
1. Is there memory loss?
The fact is, forgetfulness is a part of life and even advanced memory loss can be normal in the aging process; it can even be a side effect of certain medications. But ongoing, pervasive memory loss more closely associated with the onset of Alzheimer’s Disease and dementia involves the loss of old skills and knowledge. Be on the lookout for more abnormal impairment such as getting lost in familiar places, or not remembering people they once knew. If you are concerned that memory loss is more serious, schedule an evaluation.
2. How’s the household?
When visiting loved ones, note the appearance and upkeep of the house. Decreasing home condition can be a sign that upkeep is becoming too much. From lawn care to lightbulbs, groceries to gardening and everything in between, the business of running a home is often one of the first things to slip as our loved ones age. Take problematic chores off their plate by hiring lawn care services and cleaners, and note whether a reduction in workload frees them to accomplish the rest.
3. Are daily routines of hygiene, weight or activities changing?
Just as the household duties can begin to overcome aging loved ones, so too can personal habits and routines. You should note whether daily routines like tooth brushing, bathing and grooming are being managed. Other routines to monitor are changes in times a person arises or goes to sleep which can indicate depression or failing health.
Weight should also be evaluated and monitored. When aging loved ones lose weight, it can be a sign that they are having difficulty cooking or remembering to eat, or could be related to an underlying health concern.
Failure to maintain appropriate hygiene, daily functional activities and weight can be signs of dementia, depression and other serious medical concerns. If you are concerned about the changes in personal habits or weight investigate the cause and seek medical evaluation for a more in depth review.4. Is safety an issue?
Whether at home or on the road, aging can present dangers. Are your loved ones able to navigate the terrain inside and outside their home environment? Are the stairs or changes in levels safe to ascend and descend? Mobility can be increasingly challenging as loved ones age, and even getting around the house can become a difficult endeavor, and the injuries sustained from falling are a significant cause of disability and even death for seniors.
Beyond mobility, interfacing with the home appliances can present dangers. Note whether your loved ones continue to operate their stovetop, oven, dryer and electrical equipment with safe practices.
A common place where safety and health are concerned is in medication dosages and frequencies. Failure to take the right drugs prescribed at the right times can lead to hospitalizations and changes in condition quickly. Make sure that your loved one has a good system for monitoring their medication usage and that it is easy to use.
On the road, concerns with vision, reaction time and confusion can be deadly. Evaluate your loved one’s continued ability to drive, and consider van or driving services where necessary.
5. Are your loved ones happy?
Changes in mood, outlook and activity can be precursors to more serious issues. Pay attention to their level of activity, social interaction and maintenance of hobbies and interests. Ask your loved ones directly how they are feeling, and note that depression can be a common and treatable symptom of aging.
If one or more of these questions present a challenge for your loved one, contact your doctor and CaraVita Home Care today.