You know the feeling—that one when your intuition nudges you about a moment that makes you wonder if your once active, fiercely independent parent (or other loved one) needs help holding on to that independence.
It’s tough for seniors and families to face a reality that eventually comes around for most people as they age: they need help to continue to live independently at home. Sometimes it’s hard to know if an incident is a harmless “senior moment”, an isolated bad day, or actually a sign that your loved one’s health or safety is at risk.
Use these five warning signs to help you determine if it’s time to start a conversation about accessing ways to help an aging loved one hold on to their independence and live comfortably—and safely—at home:
Unplanned weight loss can be a sign of several issues. A person may be having trouble finding the energy to cook, reading labels or directions, or handling the tools needed to cook. It may also be a sign of a health issue such as dementia, an undiagnosed disease, or depression.
When a normally well kept home becomes cluttered—dirty dishes, pile up of mail, dirty laundry—it may be a sign of depression or dementia. The same holds true for personal hygiene and basic grooming that appears to be slipping, such as bathing, brushing teeth, wearing clean clothing.
Look for areas of the home that may have become difficult to navigate: narrow hallways, stairs, tile floors, low lighting. Your loved one may be at risk for falls. Declining eyesight may also make reading labels on medications difficult .
A noticeable change in moods or outlook on life may be a sign of depression or another health issue. Has her interest in hobbies and activities, connecting with friends and family or attending worship services changed? If so, that may be a sign of depression.
Look at how well your loved one is walking. Shuffling, tiring easily, muscle weakness or joint pain can put her at risk for falls. Consider whether a cane or walker would give her the support to prevent a fall and more serious disability.
If your loved one is showing any of these signs, it’s time to talk. Start with her, letting her know your concerns for her safety, assuring her you’d like to look at ways to eliminate any risks or issues and be safe in her home. Hearing concerns about her safety from her physician may make the difference in her being willing to take action and get the support she needs, so don’t hesitate to suggest she talk with her doctor. You can also talk with team members at Senior Home Companions who can provide a complimentary assessment to determine if in-home companion care is the level of service that’s appropriate for your loved one.