When home alone isn’t working
To help determine if elderly parents should no longer live on their own, here are some tell-tale signs to watch for offered by aging and elder care authority, Carolyn A. Brent, author of, “Why Wait? The Baby Boomers’ Guide to Preparing Emotionally, Financially & Legally for a Parents’ Death”.
Mom or Dad has always been a great housekeeper, but the house just doesn’t look like it used to: Your parent may actually have an active social life and is more concerned with staying busy than tidying up. Ask your parent if help is needed with the clutter, but do it in a nonchalant way that could prompt a conversation indicating assistance is needed. Keep an eye to discern if the mess is getting worse.
Mail is piling up: When basic tasks fall by the wayside, your older parent could be getting overwhelmed and not able to manage daily affairs. This may also indicate some signs of memory issues.
The chequing account balance is wrong and bills unpaid: If the mail is piling up, there is a good chance that the bills are not getting paid. You may also discover the chequing account ledger balance is wrong or in arrears. These are also signs that your parent is having memory issues or difficulty with simple math cognition. It can also indicate a general apathy.
Your parent is losing a lot of weight: The loss of a partner or depression can cause a lack of appetite. If the cupboard is bare, living alone might become problematic. You may want to bring groceries or book prepared meal delivery.
Otherwise, it may be time to move them where regular, healthy meals are provided.
They have forgotten the basics of hygiene: If you notice that your parent is wearing the same clothing day in and day out or that her hair or skin appears dirty on a fairly regular basis, she may have lost the motivation, ability and/or forethought to look after herself.
They appear in inappropriate clothing: While you may not share your mother or father’s sense of style, there is cause for concern if your parent dons summer clothing in the dead of winter or leaves the house in a nightgown and slippers for a trip to the store. In this situation, wardrobe can be the least of the concerns as the problem manifests in other dangerous ways.
Signs of forgetfulness: Older people put their homes and lives in danger if a pot is left on the stove for hours or water is left running. Or, perhaps the milk is in the pantry and the bread is in the refrigerator. These are signs that it may not be wise for your parent to be left home alone for extended periods.
Missing appointments and other important items: Trouble with keeping appointments, recognizing key dates, or, even more importantly, maintaining medication dosages on schedule is a clear sign they need to live with someone who can help them stick to their schedules and stay on task.
They are just acting plain weird: If you see signs of paranoia, fear, strange phone calls and conversations and nervousness, this should not be overlooked as it’s a blatant sign that living assistance is in order.
They exhibit signs of depression: A loss of interest in personal care as well as a lack of socialization and enjoying once-loved hobbies can mean that your parent needs treatment or should reside in an environment where they can be around other people. Putting them somewhere that offers assistance, socialization and activities can help cure the loneliness and put them back on track to a more fulfilling, active and engaged life.
Learn more about end-of-life issues at www.CareGiverStory.com.