Have you started to notice some changes in your loved one? Dad can’t find his keys but always knew exactly where they were before, mum sometimes leaves the stove on and hadn’t ever done it in the past… There are plenty of signs that lead us to the realisation that while we’d love to be able to, it’s simply not possible to be there for our ageing loved ones at all times.
In this blog, we’ll explore 10 common signs that your loved one may need assistance in the home. It’s important to remember, though, that each sign can be subjective: if they’ve always had laundry piling up, for example, it’s possibly not anything to be concerned about. You know them best, so consider this while reading through the following list of signs.
10 common signs your ageing loved one may need help
- Missed medication: Missed doses and medication mistakes (overdosing/running out of medication before the next prescription can be refilled) can lead to serious medical complications. Older people often take multiple prescriptions for various health conditions, which can be overwhelming without assistance and regular reminders.
- Mail piling up: Older people can become overwhelmed by the simple tasks of going to the letterbox, opening and responding to physical mail. This can result in important information being missed, leading to missed bill payments and other issues.
- Unpaid bills: Adding to the previous point, if your loved one has always been meticulous with regard to paying their bills on time and you notice that there are unpaid bills laying around when you visit, this may be a sign that they need some help with day-to-day tasks. Managing their finances in general can be overwhelming, particularly if their eyesight is deteriorating or if this was once the responsibility of a now-deceased spouse.
- Missed doctor’s appointments: While this can be a symptom of increased forgetfulness, it may also be simply a result of not having transportation and not knowing how to access transportation options on their own.
- Bathroom damages: Damage to bathroom fixtures such as shower curtains, towel bars or window sills could indicate your loved one is using these items as support – a potential danger if they lose their balance.
- Poor upkeep of the home: Changes in housekeeping may occur simply because it is too difficult or tiring. This is especially troubling if a parent used to keep the house neat and tidy or if a now-deceased spouse was responsible for these duties. From dirty laundry to dirty dishes and an unmade bed, these everyday tasks may be too much to handle on their own.
- An empty fridge: Older people who suddenly find themselves alone, have become lonely over time or who are easily overwhelmed by cooking, may not be eating properly. Their fridge may be nearly empty, or packed with spoiled food. An older person might be eating just enough calories to get by, but may suffer nutritionally with issues such as increased cholesterol and lowered vitamin intake. Studies have found that a poor diet can increase the risk of dementia in seniors and weaken the immune system.
- Misplacing items: Someone who has memory problems but is still actively mobile may be at risk of wandering. Be on the lookout for the warning signs of dementia such as returns from regular walks later than usual, difficulty locating familiar places (such as the bathroom or bedroom), pacing or restless movement.
- Less personal care being taken: Changes in appearance are the most obvious sign that some assistance is needed. These signs can range from unkept hair and body odour to an unshaven face and wearing clothing that is unclean, unchanged for days or inappropriate for the weather. These changes may occur because doing the laundry or getting in and out of the shower has become too physically challenging. Many who live alone also fear slipping and falling in the shower with no one to help them.
- You’re worried: If you find yourself feeling concerned about the health, safety and independence of your loved ones at home, it’s important to listen to those concerns. Many issues we face with age can be solved by providing your loved ones with the support they need to maintain their independence.
If you’d like to take the next step in arranging care in the home for your loved one, talk to the team at your local Home Instead office today. They can discuss your needs with you, offer advice, and provide you with information and resources about the range of different care options available. They will also be able to explain the range of services provided by Home Instead which can be implemented immediately without assessment.