Sometimes we don’t see our parents or aging loved ones as much as we would like. Life gets in the way and our responsibilities pull us in many directions. We speak to mom or dad on the phone and they tell us everything is just fine. But is it?
With the holidays here, take note of minor changes you may see while visiting your loved ones. Are they weary while navigating throughout their home or yours? Holding on to furniture and walls? Do they appear more confused with all of the family around and did they eat less than usual? Do they look like they are not physically taking care of themselves the way they used to?
It may be time to look into this a little deeper.
Here Are Six Things You Should Look for When You Visit Your Aging Loved One This Season:
- Difficulties with Activities of Daily Living (ADLs) such as bathing, changing clothes, housework, or even just getting around.
- Social Isolation– Does your loved one stay at home with little social activity, or spend less time with friends that they used to see on a regular basis?
- Forgetfulness-Did your loved one forget to do the things they were used to doing daily or did they miss their appointments
- Loss of Appetite-Has your loved one been eating? If so, what have they been eating? If they can no longer cook for themselves and/or eat healthy foods, then it may be time to reach out to someone to help.
- Weight Loss/Looking Frail– This is a sign that their bones may not be as strong as they used to be. If they fall the situation could escalate very quickly. For instance, have your loved one hold a cup of coffee or tea. Do they have the strength to hold it or is the cup shaking?
- Neglected Environment- An unorganized, cluttered or messy home can be a sign that they can’t clean anymore, or it might be so cluttered that it can affect their own hygiene. Also look for: unopened bills and personal mail, a full voicemail box, an unmade bed, or expired food.
If you see any signs listed above while visiting this holiday, it may be time to talk to your loved one about the next steps in their life to help keep them safe. Will they prefer to stay at home as they become less safe at home or is Assisted Living a better option for them? Maybe it’s time for an Aging Life Care Professional? Do they have their legal documents in order with who will help them manage their finances when they are not able to do so on their own?
These are hard questions. It’s not easy to start these conversations, but they are necessary. Don’t wait until a crisis arises before you get involved. You can advocate for your loved one and empower them to be a part of the path of care they choose long before the need shows itself.
Caring Connections of New Jersey is a non-profit 501(c)(3) organization whose primary mission is to educate seniors and their families on the options that are available in your local community. Visit our website at www.caringconnectionsnj.org or call (609) 960-CCNJ for assistance.