As you pile the gifts into the back of the car and check off any last-minute errands from your list before heading home for the Christmas holidays, you might also want to prepare to handle any changes you notice in your ageing loved ones. Keep your eyes open for these seven common issues that can threaten a senior’s independence.
Pain. Does your mother now pull up a stool by the sink to peel the potatoes? Does she wince when she bends down? Does she complain about a bad back? If you notice any red flags, try gently asking her, “How long has your back been hurting you?” Even if she tries to pretend she’s managing fine, consider helping her schedule a doctor’s appointment “just to be sure.”
Memory. Does she have trouble recalling events from that morning? Has she told you the same story over and over? You may want to keep a list of concerns to bring up with her GP or public health nurse.
Depression. If you see any hints of irritability, sadness or sleep difficulties, these could be signs of depression. Depression is common among seniors, and any related concerns should be checked out by a doctor or mental health care professional.
Social Engagement. Ask your mother/Father to tell you about their friends. Social seniors generally have a healthier and more optimistic outlook on life. If she doesn't have a strong social network, look into community activities that she may enjoy or companionship services.
Safety. If your mother/Father has more difficulty walking, make sure she has a cane, walker or the proper support; remove throw rugs or other potential tripping hazards; and look into installing grab bars and no-slip strips where needed. If you’re worried about falls or other safety issues, look into getting a medical alert system or hiring a CAREGiver from the Home Instead Senior Care® network who can check up on her frequently.
Housekeeping. As seniors experience declining health, they may have more trouble keeping up with the housework. If you notice the house looks more unkempt than usual, consider senior care services that include light housekeeping.
Medication. Try to notice if your senior loved one is taking the appropriate pills at mealtimes or before bed and if they are keeping the pillbox organized. If they are not reliable with a medication schedule, you may want to look into home care services that provide medication reminders.
How to Address the Issues You Uncover:
Even if you meet with some resistance when gently confronting a loved one about potential issues you may observe during your visit, it is in both you and your loved one’s best interest to find a solution that can help keep him or her safe and independent at home.