By Joan Reiniger, RN, Twin Lakes Clinic Nurse
As your loved one ages 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. Those most vital to your health and well being are referred to as “activities of daily living” or “ADLs.”
The 6 Basic ADLs:
When a healthcare professional is evaluating the need for support services they will likely ask about how everyday tasks are being 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, and this month he called two weeks in a row and asked which day you were meeting. Should you be worried?
Whether it’s missing that lunch date you planned with them or the medication they were supposed to take before bed, these small slips can begin to add up to a more concerning situation. While a few memory lapses may not be cause for alarm, if they become persistent their increasing presence can begin to take a toll.
Signs of increasing forgetfulness or cognitive decline are 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 interest in these things but 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.
It may also be possible that driving or travel have become less comfortable and may be 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. Joining senior centers, using Uber or other ride sources may 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 awhile. 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
While home health care, cleaning services and meal delivery may address many of these needs in their current home, if there are health related issues causing home management challenges, it may also be time to consider moving. Downsizing to a smaller home, condominium or apartment may be necessary. Moving to an assisted living community where those services are taken care of is another option.
Conversations with your loved ones about changes in their circumstances can be difficult, but starting the conversation early will allow more opportunity to plan and put appropriate measures in place before things become unmanageable.
Twin Lakes is a continuing care retirement community in Montgomery, Ohio that offers Independent Living, Assisted Living, Skilled Nursing Care, Memory Support Services, and both Inpatient and Outpatient Rehabilitative Services. If you would like a tour of Twin Lakes contact us at 513-247-1300 or click here to reach us online.