Have you recently noticed some changes in a parent or other elderly loved one that made you question whether they were safe in their own home? Or as a caregiver, are you experiencing burnout or struggling to balance your caregiving role with other responsibilities at work and at home? If so, it may be time to consider getting your loved one some help, such as hiring in-home care or perhaps even moving them to an assisted living facility.
It’s not an easy decision; you may feel guilty, and both you and your loved one may feel resistant or even fearful about making this change. But if you notice any of the red flags below, it’s probably time to start the conversation.
- Nutrition. Are they skipping meals or eating smaller portions? Have they been losing weight or showing other signs of malnutrition, or have they gained a significant amount of weight recently? Do things spoil in the fridge a lot more than before? Are they always eating the same thing?
- Personal hygiene. Has their grooming (hair, makeup, shaving, fingernails, etc.) seemed to slip? Have they stopped showering and bathing? Are they always wearing the same clothes?
Health and safety warning signs
- Medication. Do they forget to take medication, or are they resistant to following their medication regimen?
- Forgetfulness. Do they forget to turn off appliances? Are they calling you several times a day for some kind of help?
- Frailty. Are they losing their balance and falling often? Have there been times when they fell and couldn’t get up to call for help? Do they seem to have more trouble bouncing back from minor illnesses like colds, or do they have a chronic health condition that seems to be getting worse?
- Vision impairment. Can they safely walk or drive?
Money and household warning signs
- Financial upkeep. Are there stacks of unopened bills, or lots of past-due notices? Are they withdrawing cash for no reason and then forgetting where they put it? Have they been taken advantage of by fraudsters?
- Household upkeep. Is there a lot more clutter around the house? Is there a lot more dust and grime than in the past? Does the yard look neglected?
Emotional wellness warning signs
- Behavioral changes. Are they becoming more irritable, demanding, or violent? Are they depressed? Do they say one thing and then do another?
- Isolation. Do they rarely leave the house or see friends? Although living at home alone doesn’t necessarily equate to depression or loneliness for everyone, research by the Association for Psychological Science has found that social isolation can increase the risk of mortality by roughly 30 percent.
If your loved one is experiencing several of these signs, they might benefit from a more structured living environment, with people to talk to and activities to partake in.
Written by Kaya Laterman