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13 Warning Signs Your Older Loved One Needs Help at Home
Planning for in-home care is often an overlooked consideration for many individuals. However, it is essential to have a well-thought-out plan in place to avoid unexpected and unpleasant situations. To prepare for the care of a loved one, it is crucial to familiarize oneself with the signs and symptoms of aging-related challenges. As individuals grow older, everyday activities that were once routine may be neglected due to memory issues or physical difficulties. By understanding these challenges, we can proactively address them and ensure the well-being of our loved ones.
Signs that your loved one may need extra help at home
Bruises, Cuts, or Scrapes
A fall is arguably the most serious sign you can encounter that your loved one needs help at home. Per the National Council on Aging (NCOA), falls are the leading cause of death from injury among people 65 and older. Worse, the risk of falls only increases with age.
If you start seeing bruises or abrasions on your loved one, you need to ask him or her how it happened and immediately do whatever is necessary to prevent future falls. A notable benefit of professional care providers is that they many are trained or certified in fall prevention and can help fall-proof your loved one's home to help ensure he or she remains safe.
Poor Personal Hygiene
Poor hygiene may be very apparent if your loved one has always been meticulous about their appearance. However, any deterioration in grooming habits is worth noting as a possible sign that home care is needed. Dirty and untidy hair, unbrushed teeth, dirty clothes, body odor, and dirty hands and nails are warning signs that personal care has become too much of a challenge without assistance.
Body weakness, poor eyesight, imbalance, medications, vitamin D deficiency, and household hazards can all contribute to your loved one falling. The CDC reports that three million older adults are hospitalized each year as a result of falling. Help ensure that your loved one's home is safe from potential hazards and seek equipment and aids as needed to help them maintain their balance while walking.
Lapse in Home Maintenance
Are you wondering when the lawn was last cut? Or noticing the inside of the house hasn't been mopped or vacuumed in a long time? Are things left out of place more than usual?
Don't write off this behavior as laziness, especially if your loved one has traditionally been a clean and organized person. The unkempt home could signal more significant problems that shouldn't be ignored. And it's not enough to just help get the house in shape. Your loved one may be reaching a state of dependency, and the condition of the home can be indicative of that.
What begins as a missed dose of medicine or doctor's appointment may seem innocuous enough since anyone can slip from time to time. However, when one becomes confused about which medication was taken or if at all, that forgetfulness can have serious consequences. Forgetfulness can compound into forgetting to pay bills, properly securing the home, getting lost in familiar surroundings, and unexplained bank withdrawals. What may seem like forgetfulness may be symptoms of dementia or Alzheimer's.
Your older loved one may not have the ability to properly prepare regular meals that provide appropriate nourishment. Managing kitchen tasks may be the culprit, or it could be that planning meals and getting to the grocery store is a challenge. Lacking proper nutrition and hydration has negative physical, mental, and emotional repercussions. Someone may need to offer input on healthy meal selections as well as assist with shopping and preparation.
Major Health Concerns
If your loved one suffers from chronic illnesses, they may require regular trips to the hospital for IV treatments or dialysis. Typically, seniors with chronic illnesses are more vulnerable to developing other conditions. Being at higher risk means that these older adults could benefit from extra care and attention from family members or even professional caregivers.
Depression and Isolation
If you've noticed your loved one seems irritable or sleep patterns have changed drastically, it might be an indication that something is amiss. Significant changes in emotional states and social patterns may be indicative of depression, isolation, or other health concerns. A professional caregiver provides companionship and a reliable resource to help keep your one's life more balanced.
Overall Cognitive Decline
If you notice that your loved one is having trouble making decisions, difficulty following directions, and/or increased confusion, then it may be time to hire a caregiver who can offer 24-hour home care. While every person is different, these are some signs to be on the lookout for as your loved ones get older. If you are noticing these indicators, a senior in-home care service can be a beneficial solution. An in-home service allows your elderly relative to stay comfortable in their own home, which is a huge benefit for their welfare and overall wellbeing. According to AARP, 77% of seniors report preferring to stay in their own homes as they age.
Illness or Surgical Recovery
Sudden bouts of illness or recovery from surgery may be a sign that your loved one needs extra assistance at home. During this time, they can be vulnerable to developing an infection or other diseases and are at a higher risk of hospital readmission.
Irritability or Aggression
Aggression may be a side effect of dementia. Even if your loved one has always had a temper, it's important to take note of aggressive behavior. Repeated aggression or hostility will take its toll on family caregivers. Caregiver burnout is not only a threat to the family caregiver, but it can unintentionally place a care recipient in danger. If your loved one's attitude becomes too aggressive, it may be worth considering a trained professional who has experience working with similar care recipients.
Inability to Drive Safely
Earning a driver's license expressed a significant rite of passage into adulthood. As such, asking your loved one to relinquish the care keys for safety's sake can feel like a major blow to their independence. Instead of allowing your loved one to continue driving, however, it may be time to have the difficult conversation about receiving assistance to get to and from appointments and errands.
Some broken appliances are simply a matter of inconvenience. Others, however, can negatively impact your senior's health. A broken refrigerator, for instance, limits the quality of food and the safety of storing it. A lack of proper heat and air conditioning creates very real health hazards. If any broken major appliances have gone without repair or replacement, you may want to question your loved one's ability to handle the home's maintenance.
Let us know in the comments below - How did you know your loved one required more help?
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