Have you noticed any of these warning signs with your elderly parent?
Physical changes such as the way he or she walks, extreme weight loss and weight gain or a decline in personal hygiene may be one of the first indications of a problem. Is the cupboard bare or are there lots of containers of old food in the refrigerator? Have you noticed unexplained scratches and dents on the car? These household changes, too, can signal a change in the aging parent’s condition. Is your loved one showing signs of depression or abnormally forgetful? For example, can dad remember when and what dose medication is to be taken? Is he or she having difficulty dealing with financial issues or not paying bills? The answers to these questions can assist in determining if your parent is facing a medical problem or these symptoms are merely the normal course of aging.
Once that determination is made, then the decision becomes What is the best thing to do for my parent and for my family and me? Your elderly mom may not need daily medical support, but she has begun to require more assistance than you can give her. Has she had a close call with a fall or threatened her safety by leaving a stove burner on?
Before you reach the limit of your endurance, it may be time to consider assisted living. If you’re the sole or main caregiver, you can simply burn out. For reasons of guilt, many people wait too long to make this difficult decision. After the fact, most state that they should have made the move a couple of years earlier.
If your parent is having increasing difficulty managing the activities of daily life, this is a large indicator. There are other signs to consider:
- Changes in Appearance – If Dad has always been clean-shaven and of late is sporting a scraggly beard, this might signal he is forgetting to shave or has forgotten how to shave. Is Mom’s hair and makeup still up to her usual standard? Do you notice a strange body odor, indicating a lack of proper hygiene?
- Friends and Acquaintances – Does your loved one keep up with his or her friends and still participate in social activities. Often, depression is caused by loneliness, and assisted living facilities offer an array of diversions for the senior—card games and other games, communal dining, and frequent outings.
- Days Spent without Leaving the House – Sometimes, the elderly person can no longer drive, is afraid to drive or take public transportation without a companion. Does someone regularly check in on him or her?
- Stacks of Mail Strewn over the House – This potential tripping hazard is also a warning that maybe important details like house payments, insurance, credit card bills, etc. are not being taken care of, and your loved one is having difficulty managing these monetary concerns.
- Kitchen Clues – No one needs four boxes of instant mashed potatoes or a freezer filled with TV dinners. Are there broken appliances or signs of a kitchen fire like a scorched range hood?
- Around the House – An increased amount of clutter, slackened housecleaning, dirty bathrooms are all signs that your loved one might not be capable of performing such activities. Are there dead plants sitting around everywhere? Perhaps, Mom can no longer remember to water them, has lost interest or simply doesn’t notice them at all anymore. Also, look for signs of neglecting the house itself.
Assisted living can help your loved one thrive again, enabling you to give your attention to being a son or daughter.
If you make the decision, and if you need assistance finding a suitable facility, Senior Citizens Bureau can help. SCB is there for seniors and for caregivers. Join us today and discover all the benefits of membership.