Getting together with family is the hallmark of the holiday season. With the kids on break from school and extended time away from work, it’s the ultimate occasion for the generations to get together and enjoy some quality time. It is, however, also the opportune time to assess the health, safety and wellbeing of the family matriarchs and patriarchs.
Specifically when our senior loved ones live far away, it can be difficult to know through phone calls, emails, and even Skype precisely how they’re doing. An in-person visit is the most beneficial way to uncover any potential difficulties through simple observations in and around the senior’s home. The senior elder care team at Hearts at Home, the home care assistance Overland Park KS experts, notes the following red flags to look for when spending time with older adults this holiday season.
Changes in the Home
A home that’s always been clean and well maintained may have become messy 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 indicate the senior’s struggles with housecleaning and shopping for groceries. Furthermore, scorch marks on pots could be the result of food left cooking for too long – putting the senior at serious risk for danger. While it may be difficult to evaluate, another typical concern is the older adult’s inability to manage finances. Check for unopened mail and unpaid bills, or any discussion about the utilities being turned off or bill collectors phoning.
Changes in Appearance
If the older adult looks unkempt with mismatched or dirty clothing and indications of poor personal hygiene habits, she could be struggling with trouble getting into or out of the bathtub or shower; or, it might be the result of cognitive decline. Also note whether the senior has gained or lost weight without trying, which could be the result of a health concern that is in need of medical attention. And, if any bruising is noticeable, it could indicate falling or even physical abuse. In each of these situations, an appointment with the primary care physician as soon as possible is warranted.
Changes in Personality
Pay close attention to any variances apparent in the senior’s mood and mental functioning. Does she appear to be reclusive? Agitated? Forgetful? Has she become disinterested in hobbies and pursuits that used to be enjoyable for her? Is she having issues with sleeping – either too much or too little? Does she appear to be affected by mood swings? Is she engaged in social activities?
When changes such as these are noticeable, it may be time to start thinking about the assistance of a professional in-home senior elder care provider, such as Hearts at Home. Our services are individualized to meet each person’s requirements, whether just a little help around the home with housework, meals and errand-running, 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.