The holidays are just around the corner. One can almost taste the delicious homemade meals and anticipate the joy of family gatherings. For those who live at a distance from their aging loved one, this may be the first time to see them in quite awhile.
Holidays provide a wonderful opportunity to observe your loved one and note any changes that may have occurred that may need to be addressed. These simple steps are intended to ensure your loved one’s ongoing safety and well being. Ask yourself these questions as you observe your loved one in his/her everyday routine.
PLACES TO LOOK
In the fridge~ Are the refrigerator and pantry well-stocked? Is the food fresh? Are there healthy (dietary appropriate) choices available?
In the medicine cabinet~ Are medications organized? Is a pill dispenser being used? Is it on the correct day? Are there expired or discontinued prescriptions? New prescriptions? Duplicates?
Around the house~ Notice changes in housekeeping style? Are there dishes and pots not well cleaned? Are there burn marks on cookware to suggest cooking that was left unattended? Do you see piles of mail, papers, magazines, laundry? Are there unpaid bills? Is the checkbook register up to date?
THINGS TO OBSERVE
Socially~ Do you sense a change in social patterns? Has your loved one quit groups or decreased outings? Are there issues with hearing, mobility, continence that may affect their comfort in socializing outside the home? Are there signs of loneliness or depression ?
Driving~ This is an important topic best covered in its own post . However, if there are new dents and scratches on the car or garage door frame, it might be time to go for a test drive with your loved one and see how they are doing.
Physical Appearance~ Do you notice a significant weight loss or gain? Is your relative unsteady or has there been a change in their gait or balance? How is there flexibility? Do you notice unkempt hair, untrimmed nails, unusual dress or body odor? Are there signs of swelling or shortness of breath?
Mental State~ Is there evidence of missed appointments or late bill payments? Through normal conversation have you noted confusion, disorientation, or lapses in memory ? Does your loved one seem to be forgetting names and basic personal information?
Take note of any concerns you have, consider their significance and discuss them with your loved one, other family members, and his/her physician.
Practical solutions and resources will be covered in the December blog. Be sure to check back for helpful ways to remedy concerns and be confident that aging relatives are receiving any assistance needed.