How do I know if my parents need help?
Submitted by Mike McGee, owner of Comfort Keepers
We live in a mobile society where families don’t always live in the same town or even the same state. The holiday season has become an important time to take stock of our loved one’s health and everyday living capabilities. Family gatherings or frequent phone calls from long distance relatives are a perfect time to check up on seniors living on their own.
This holiday season while you are visiting or on the phone with your aging loved ones, make good use of your time by reviewing their living status.
Use your five senses
Sight: Watch for things like clothes with stains, poor personal hygiene and a disorganized or dirty house. These can be signs that a senior is limited physically or mentally from completing normal daily tasks.
Sound: Listening to what and how seniors speak can tell you a lot about their current mental status. Do they call you by name? Are they speaking normally? Are they staying involved in outside activities?
Smell: Using your nose as an indicator to determine if your relative is bathing properly, cleaning their house or has spoiled food in their kitchen.
Taste: Tasting their food and sorting through their medications can help you determine if they are eating healthy or taking expired medications. Look at expiration dates and for fresh and stocked pantry items.
Touch: A simple hug can tell you if your family member is fragile or losing weight. Is their skin soft and the color normal? Do they have any bruising or tearing of the skin?
Check up by phone
If you’re unable to see your loved one in person, here are questions with key indicators or warning signs to help determine if your family members are in need of additional care or assistance.
"What did you have for breakfast?" "Did you go to the beauty salon to get your hair cut?" "Did you use the new shower gel I bought you?" These are good ‘backdoor’ questions to finding out whether or not your loved one is remembering to take care of his/her hygiene.
"Did you make it to Bingo this week?" An early sign of depression is withdrawal from social activities.
While speaking, listen to see if you hear any differences in speech patterns. These are warning signs for medical problems that should be looked into immediately.
Help is available
If you sense a problem based on the above indictors, you and other family members should waste no time in taking the appropriate next steps, which might include:
- Discussing the situation with the individual
- Making a doctor’s appointment for the individual
- Determining what services are available in their community group
- Making minor adjustments in their lifestyle
Remember, the holiday season is a time for family togetherness. By taking the time to address these issues before they reach the crisis stage, your family will have the much-needed sense of security, comfort and hopefully the ability to create new memories with your aging loved ones for many years to come.
Comfort Keepers in Greater Cincinnati has been in business for more than 10 years. The company’s goal is to help seniors achieve the greatest quality of life possible. As of Dec. 9, 2011, this service provider was highly rated on Angie’s List. Ratings are subject to change based on consumer feedback, so check AngiesList.com for the most up-to-date reviews. The views expressed by this author do not necessarily reflect those of Angie’s List.