• Aging Loved Ones: Signs It’s Time For Help

    Aging Loved Ones: Signs It’s Time For Help

By Joan Reiniger, RN, Twin Lakes

As your loved one is aging you encourage them to maintain their health and enjoy their independence. So what do you do when you notice a change in routine or behavior that causes you concern?

This is especially difficult if they are unaware of the change themselves. Here are 4 common indicators that it may be time to seek support.

4 Examples That It May Be Time For Help

1. Personal Care

Mom has always been someone that makes sure her clothing, hair and makeup looked nice before she leaves the house or has company over. This year you’ve noticed a change. She’s not as pulled together as she used to be.

One of the most recognizable signs that assistance may be in order is the growing difficulty in accomplishing everyday tasks. Tasks that are most vital to your health and well being are referred to as “activities of daily living” or “ADLs.”

The 6 Basic ADLs:

  • Eating
  • Bathing
  • Dressing
  • Toileting
  • Transferring
  • Walking

To evaluate the need for support, a healthcare professional asks about how these tasks are accomplished.

What You Can Do

Investigate home care agencies to provide assistance on a schedule that works for their personal situation. If needs are greater, speak with your loved one and their physician about an assisted living environment that can address their needs and provide added benefits. If they have Long Term Care Insurance, consult the policy for coverage options.

2. Missing Scheduled Events

You’ve met your Grandfather every Sunday for lunch for many years. This month he called two weeks in a row and asked which day you were meeting. Should you be worried?

Missing that lunch date you planned with them. Forgetting to take medication before bed. These small slips can begin to add up to a more concerning situation. A few memory lapses may not be cause for alarm. But. if they become persistent their increasing presence can begin to take a toll.

Increasing forgetfulness or cognitive decline is often indicated by:

  • Forgetting to take medications or refill prescriptions
  • Frequently missing appointments
  • Leaving appliances turned on after use
  • Losing items of importance (keys, id cards, cell phone)

What You Can Do

Work with your loved one to put measures into place for reminders. Setting alarms or using pill reminders to organize medications, displaying a large print calendar, designating a space for items of importance or setting new routines may improve the situation.

3. Social Activity

Dad has always kept an active social calendar and spent a fair amount of time pursuing hobbies. For the past six months, he hasn’t been getting out much. You’ve asked him about it and he doesn’t seem to have the energy anymore. You’re not sure what’s going on, should you be concerned?

Socializing with family and friends and pursuing hobbies can often be impacted by external factors. Your loved one may still have an interest in these things. However, they may be experiencing some changes to their health or mobility. Other factors may include changes to sleep habits, vision impairment or medication side effects causing a dip in energy levels.

Could driving or trave have become less comfortable? Is it preventing your loved one from getting out as much as they used to?

What You Can Do

Investigate possible causes with your loved one and encourage them to consult their physician to evaluate if there is an underlying medical issue causing this. Look into senior centers, using Uber or other ride sources to help increase independence. If there are underlying health factors causing this, moving to an assisted living community may need to be considered. In an assisted living community the ability to socialize, access transportation services and receive health monitoring would be available.

4. Home Management

You recently visited with your aunt and noticed that she hasn’t kept up with her housework or been to the grocery store in a while. She used to keep things so neat and organized, should you offer to step in?

Managing the household can become more difficult for various reasons. Mobility, balance, and vision can all be factors in your loved one’s ability to clean their home or drive to the store. In addition to this, things such as cooking meals and managing finances can become more complicated and can ultimately lead to a less organized and maintained home.

What You Can Do

Home health care, cleaning services, and meal delivery may address many of these needs in their current home. Are there home management challenges due to health-related issues? It may be time to consider moving. Downsizing to a smaller home, condominium or apartment may be necessary. An assisted living community where those services are offered is also an option.

Conversations with your loved ones about changes in their circumstances can be difficult. However, starting the conversation early will allow more opportunity to plan and put appropriate measures in place. Ultimately avoiding a situation where things become unmanageable.

Twin Lakes is a continuing care retirement community in Cincinnati, Ohio, offering villa homes, apartments, rehab services and more. We’re focused on supporting the vibrant and active lifestyles of our residents so they can age well. For more information, contact Twin Lakes online or at 513-247-1300.

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