How will I know?
It can be hard to know when it is time to talk with an aging loved one about getting help with in-home care. Especially those loved ones that have always been fiercely independent, facing the reality of needing help can be tough. To know when it is the right time to reach out to your loved one, keep an eye out for signs your elderly loved one needs help and is no longer fully capable of meeting their own needs.
Changes in appearance
Keep an eye out for changes in appearance. If your loved one has recently gained or lost a significant amount of weight, this may be a sign they need help. Other things to watch out for are changes in personal hygiene. If you notice your loved one is wearing the same outfit day-to-day, is not bathing regularly or is generally unkempt, this may be a sign that their physical or mental capabilities have changed. Talking to your loved one about these changes can help you decide what type of assistance they might need.
Bruises and injuries
If you notice that a loved one has bruises or other injuries, this could be a sign that they need help. Falls are the leading cause of both fatal and non-fatal injuries in people 65 years and older, according to the National Council on Aging. And, one in four Americans over the age of 65 falls each year, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Making sure that your loved one’s home is fall-proof can help make their home safer.
Changes in the home
Is there a stack of unpaid bills on the kitchen table? Does it look like it’s been a while since they vacuumed the floors? Changes in the household can be a sign that your loved one needs help. Sometimes the physical demands of keeping a clean house can be too much for an aging family member. Other times, these things can be a sign of Alzheimer’s or some other underlying issue. If you’ve always known your loved one to be clean and organized, a disorganized home could mean it’s time for them to get help.
Car accidents and unexplained dents or scratches
Looking at your family member’s vehicle can be another indication that they may need help. Multiple accidents, no matter how minor, can be an indication that they are no longer able to drive. If their vehicle has dents or scratches and your loved one can’t explain how they got there, it is time to bring up the topic of them driving. While this can be one of the most challenging conversations to have with a loved one, taking away their license is for their safety and the safety of other drivers.
If your parent or loved one is acting differently, it is vital to reach out to them and get them the help they need. Changes in personality especially increased aggression could be signs of dementia. If you notice increased isolation, this could be a sign of depression. Recognizing personality changes can help you decide what kind of help your loved one might need.
It is never easy to tell an aging loved one that you think they need help, and a roll-reversal between parent and child can be tough to handle. But, looking for signs your elderly loved one needs help and approaching the conversation with love, patience and understanding can help ensure that you get your loved one the help they need to continue living independently.