Signs Your Loved One May Need Help at Home
As the Baby Boomers turn 65 (at the rate of one every 10 seconds), more and more Americans will find themselves faced with some potentially difficult realities. Among those is recognizing when a loved one may need help at home. It is important to communicate with your loved ones and let them know why you are worried and that you want to help. The best solutions will be the ones worked out together.
Here are some signs that may indicate someone needs help:
Are appointments missed or bills not getting paid? Are common objects being put in illogical places. Perhaps medication is being incorrectly or not at all.
If you notice any of these, an assessment (both medical and cognitive) may be in order to determine what is going on and to come up with some options. Knowing the cause means effective treatments can be put in place, keeping your loved one safe.
- Difficulty Getting Around
Are your loved ones having trouble moving around or getting in and out of chairs? A two-story house could be problematic and create a much higher fall risk. Check for slippery tiles and furniture that creates obstacles.
A cane or walker may be all that is needed. In some cases, modifications to the house may be possible. The goal is not get your loved one to leave the home, but rather to come up together with viable options that keep them safe.
- Unusual Amount of Clutter
Is there dirty laundry or unopened mail in a home that is historically meticulously clean? This could be a sign of cognitive decline, or simply that the house is getting to be too much to handle. A conversation could help determine what is needed: a housekeeper, gardener, or a more significant geriatric makeover.
- Change in Personality
Are there changes in personality? Are your loved ones accusing people of taking their things, or exhibiting other paranoid behavior?
This could be a sign of dementia. An appointment with a medical doctor for a cognitive assessment could be important to establish a base line from which to gauge any further decline. If dementia is diagnosed, that in itself does not mean that your loved one cannot participate in the decision-making process; the severity of the dementia will have more of an impact on their inclusion in the conversation. However, dementia will mean that at some point they will not be able to make decisions and now is the time to make certain all legal and medical documents are in order.
It is important to remember that needing assistance does not necessarily mean leaving the home. It may be that extra help in the home environment is all that is needed to keep your loved one safe and healthy. A care manager or elder law attorney may be able to assist with determining what extra services are needed and where to look for help.