If it’s been a while since you took a close look at where your parent or older loved one is living, it might be time to do so. Even if you regularly phone them, chat online, or take them to run errands, you might not notice subtle changes that can require attention. Knowing the warning signs for seniors living at home is a good place to start.
Knowing what to look for: warning signs for seniors living at home
Does your parent just need an extra hand around the house, or is time to consider the supportive benefits of assisted living? Here are some indicators that might help you decide:
Changes in behavior
- Staying isolated and withdrawing. It’s okay to enjoy time alone, especially if your loved one is more of an introvert, but if they are declining invitations to spend time with you, especially when it’s an event or holiday where everyone usually gathers, it could be a red flag. They might be uncomfortable around others due to changes in vision or hearing. They might fear you will notice if they have a memory lapse and the result will be a loss of independence.
The important thing to remember is that all older adults need the benefit of socialization—having people in their lives they enjoy being around, and can depend on. Not having this social capital can lead to negative changes in physical, emotional and mental health, and is one of the major warning signs for seniors living at home.
- Neglecting personal care. Does it seem like Dad never combs his hair anymore, or can’t button his shirt properly? Maybe Mom was always an excellent housekeeper, but now things are untidy and seem out of place?
Personal care, whether it’s wearing clean clothes, brushing teeth, or even regular bathing, is an indicator of how well a person is functioning on their own. It might be that your parent just needs an extra hand a few hours a day to get the laundry done or have a shave—or it could be they are not aware there is an issue.
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Changes in health and safety
- Not getting proper nutrition. Keeping the refrigerator stocked and preparing nutritious meals is a challenge for anyone on a regular basis, but it’s very important for overall good health. Older people especially need their nutritional needs met. But worries over driving to a market, preparing food safely, and even the boredom of eating alone can cause an older adult to skip a meal too often.
If you notice spoiled food, nothing fresh in the refrigerator, and an unstocked pantry, it could be signs your parent is not eating properly—another of the very serious warning signs for seniors living at home.
- Falling and impaired mobility. More than one out of four Americans age 65+ falls each year. No one likes to admit they have had a fall, or that their balance isn’t what it used to be. However, if you notice your loved one has an unsteady gait, or if you see signs of bruising that indicates a fall, it could be time to take action.
A first step might be seeing a physician to rule out vision problems or other conditions. Clutter, piles of magazines, slippery throw rugs and unnecessary furnishings can be removed to open up walkways. In addition, safety features such as grab bars and better lighting could be good choices. Or, it could be time for an environment that’s designed from the group up for safety.
Changes in cognition/memory
- Not taking medications properly. There are many challenges when it comes to medications. Labels can be confusing or hard to read. A senior may be taking multiple prescriptions and mixing them up might be easy to do. Some medications must be taken at an exact time of day. Another might be difficult to swallow and thus, easy to overlook or push aside. If you notice empty pill bottles or your parent seems to be avoiding their medications, it could be cause for concern.
- Wandering/getting lost. A person in the early stages of dementia or Alzheimer’s disease can become unable to recognize a familiar place or person. This sets up the possibility that they cannot find their way home, which can be dangerous. Or, it may take them hours to return from a short errand. In some cases, an older adult may even be confused about the layout of their home.
If wandering continues to progress, it may be a good idea to look into a living situation where your older loved one is not living alone.
How Assisted Living at The Herrick House can help
At The Herrick House, your loved one can continue the lifestyle they want, in a warm and supportive atmosphere without the worries of maintaining a home. Numerous ongoing activities and events mean lots of opportunities to socialize with others, so important for senior health and wellness. Delicious and nutritious food is served in a pleasant dining atmosphere and individual preferences are honored. Above all, compassionate, personalized assistance is available for activities of daily living (grooming, medication management, bathing, dressing, dining and more) so that each person can go about their day, feeling confident and cared for in an environment designed for their safety and wellness. In addition, 24-hour licensed nursing is available on site.
If the warning signs for seniors living at home have become a concern for you and your family, we invite you to learn more about our exceptional assisted living community.