THE HOLIDAYS are a joyous time when we visit senior family members who we might not see on a regular basis. For many children and grandchildren, however, it’s also a time when we might begin to see signs that our senior loved one is growing less able to care for herself, or live safely at home independently. Know what signs to look for and what to do when you see them.
UPKEEP OF THE HOME: When visiting a senior relative, look for changes in how they keep their home. Typical housework that appears to have been neglected — washing dishes, taking out the trash, clearing dirt and clutter — can be a sign of a myriad of issues, such as depression, dementia, and more. Scorched pots and pans can indicate forgetfulness, and it’s a sign that your loved one might need someone else to come in to cook their meals and do light housework.
PHYSICAL APPEARANCE: How your loved one looks physically is another area where you should pay close attention. A disheveled appearance coupled with neglecting basic hygiene and typical grooming habits, such as regular bathing and teeth brushing, could indicate a physical impairment or a mental issue, such as depression or dementia.
WEIGHT LOSS: If your loved one seems to have lost a lot of weight since the last time you saw them, it could be an indication that something is amiss. Weight loss in the elderly can be caused by many factors. Weight loss could be due to your loved one’s inability to get food into the home, to make a meal or even to eat, such as if there is a dental issue. A lack of appetite could be caused by a loss of the sense of taste or smell, or even depression or dementia.
If you suspect a medical issue, make sure your loved one sees his or her doctor. These signs could also mean it is time to consider senior care so that he or she may continue to lead a healthy life in the comfort of his or her own home. If you remain sensitive to these subtle, but critical signs, you may be able to prevent a life impairing injury or event from occurring. As you visit with your senior loved one, we hope that your holidays are filled with the joy, laughter, and warmth that only this season brings.
This column is sponsored by Comfort Keepers of Polk County.
column by TRACY KELLEY
BIO: Tracy Kelley is the owner/operator of Comfort Keepers of Polk County. For over 12 years, she has been leading professional and extensively trained caregivers to help seniors of Central Florida maintain their quality of life. Her motto — and that of Comfort Keepers of Polk County — is “We get to help the hands that built America.” For more information about Comfort Keepers, visit lakeland-381.comfortkeepers.com or call (863) 701-9100.