Do you ever ask yourself, “Where has the time gone”? One of my close friends asked me that question a few weeks ago when he was telling me about his mom. He was concerned about his mom living alone and trying to take care of herself, let alone her home.
While talking to his mom over the phone he said she sounded fine. However, when he paid her a visit a few days later, she looked dehydrated. She told him she was fine and just needed to drink more water. He also noticed the house was not being kept up like it had been. When asked about her health, she kept telling him that everything was okay and she was just a little tired.
Less than a month later, my friend’s mom was admitted to the hospital after slipping on a throw rug in her bedroom. Luckily, one of her friends was with her when the accident took place.
My friend’s mom and many other seniors think they can live safely on their own at home; however, by evaluating their current health condition and home life, your assessment is more realistic and useful than their own. Many aging parents or loved ones do not want to admit or accept assistance, from anyone because no one likes to lose his or her independence. So yes, it’s up to the family to recognize signs that their parent or loved one may no longer be safe living independently.
Is Your Aging Parent or Loved One Safe Living Alone?
Whether your loved one eventually needs some extra assistance living at home or requires full time assistance in an Assisted Living or Nursing Home, it is important to recognize and assess the signs of your aging loved one.
Here are the health signs to look for when your aging loved one is living independently
- Activities of Daily Living (ADLs). When your loved one has difficulty in basic physical maneuvers that healthy individuals perform daily without assistance such as bathing, changing clothes, using the toilet, daily housework, walking around the house, and feeding. If you notice that your loved one is having a tough time with their ADLs, it’s time to quickly seek professional help.
- Social Isolation. If your loved one seems to stay at home with little outdoor or social activity, they are prone to health issues such as dementia, which is a pervasive deterioration of intellectual ability that occurs over an extended period of time. Memory loss is the symptom most common in dementia. However, it may not be dementia. It may be depression or both. Therefore, it is extremely important to seek professional diagnosis and treatment by a mental health professional specializing in geriatrics or with extensive experience with depression and dementia are optimal.
- Forgetfulness can be one of the first signs of cognitive impairment. Did your loved one forget to take out the trash, miss multiple appointments, or forget to take the daily vitamins? If so, it might be time to have a conversation with them.
- A chronic health condition that is worsening can be one of the most evident signs that they are unfit to live at home independently. Assess the severity and timeline of the chronic condition, and then talk to your loved one about the situation at hand. Seek professional help.
- Minor accidents such as wetting the bed, or much worse — any falling accident, indicates it’s time to seek help. As people get older, the odds of minor accidents taking place increases. And, the accidents could be a lot worse.
- Weight loss/looking frail or even significant weight gain is a signal that your loved one’s bones may not be as strong as they used to be. If they fall then the situation could escalate very quickly. For instance, have your loved one hold a cup of tea. Do they have the strength to hold it or is the cup shaking substantially? Or, how well can they stand up or sit down from the couch? Any significant weight gain could be a sign of dementia. Your loved one may not remember to eat lunch, so they eat another meal and then another meal. It’s time to look towards the next step if you’re noticing these signs getting worse.
- A Neglected Environment such as unorganized, cluttered or messy home can be a sign that your loved one may need some help. A neglected environment will quickly get worsen and will soon be unfit for your loved one to live in. Exact signs to look for include unopened bills and personal mail, a full telephone or cell voicemail box, unmade bed, dirty dishes or left over food in the refrigerator.
The most important factor is their health and safety, and if they are unfit to live alone then it is time to seek help in finding the next appropriate living option. In the meantime, if your loved one has no signs of health issues and is safe at home, then have a conversation with them NOW about their next living options. That way, when that time comes, the transition will be less stressful.
If your aging loved one has already illustrated significant signs of h while living independently, or if you are seeking further information on the next step, contact your local Assisted Transition Senior Care Advisor today for complimentary, personalized guidance for you and your family.