Visiting with family is the hallmark of the holidays. With the kids on break from school and extended time off from work, it’s the perfect opportunity for the generations to come together and celebrate. It’s also, however, the opportune time to assess the health, safety and wellbeing of the family matriarchs and patriarchs.
Particularly when our elder loved ones live at a distance, it can be difficult to know through phone calls, emails, and even Skype exactly how they’re doing. An in-person visit is the best way to uncover any potential concerns through simple observations in and around the home. The home care team at Absolute Companion Care shares the following red flags to look for when visiting older adults this holiday season.
Changes in the Home
A home that’s always been clean and well maintained may have become cluttered and unsanitary. Piles of laundry, stacks of mail, dishes in the sink, and spoiled or expired (or no) food in the fridge and pantry can all point to an elder’s difficulty with housecleaning and grocery shopping. Additionally, scorch marks on pans could be the result of food left cooking for too long – placing the elder at serious risk for harm. Although it may be harder to assess, another common concern is the elder’s inability to manage finances. Look for unopened mail and unpaid bills, or any discussion about the utilities being turned off or bill collectors calling.
Changes in Appearance
If an elder appears unkempt with mismatched or dirty clothing and evidence of poor hygiene habits, she may be struggling with problems getting into or out of the tub; or, it could be the result of cognitive decline. Also note whether an elder has lost or gained weight without trying, which could be the result of a health concern that needs medical attention. And, if any bruises are apparent, they could relate to falls or even physical abuse. In all of these instances, a visit with the primary care physician as soon as possible is warranted.
Changes in Personality
Pay close attention to any differences noted in an elder’s mood and mental functioning. Does she seem withdrawn? Agitated? Forgetful? Has she become disinterested in hobbies and interests that used to be enjoyable for her? Is she having trouble sleeping – either too much sleep or too little? Does she seem to be experiencing mood swings? Is she engaged in social activities?
When changes such as these are noted, it may be time to consider the assistance of a professional senior home care provider, such as Absolute Companion Care. Our services are customized to meet each individual’s needs, whether just a little help around the home with housework, meals and running errands, personal care assistance such as help with safe bathing and dressing, specialized care for those with cognitive difficulties, or even full-time, around-the-clock care.