Mary Alexander: Hi! I'm Mary Alexander from Home Instead Senior Care. Today I'm discussing how to care for the entire senior. Right now, I'm going to talk about loss of attention signals and environmental clues that may show your senior loved one is suffering the effects of aging.
Look at your senior's appearance. Is clothing dirty or unkempt or is your loved one neglecting personal hygiene? If anything seems odd such as failure to keep up with daily good grooming habits, it could be a sign of depression, dementia or other health issues.
If your senior is still driving, go for a ride and look for diminished driving skills, such as slow response times or rolling through stop signs. Other warnings are missing turns because they can't read the signs or braking quickly to avoid rear ending someone.
Much media attention has been paid of late to elderly drivers, while no one wants to see anyone lose this vital peace of independence. It's more worrisome and dangerous if their driving skills are impaired due to physical ailments, a lack of attention and inability to focus. In fact, not only is your loved ones life at risk, she or he is also putting the lives of others in danger as well.
Other signs you can look for that demonstrate difficulty concentrating or memory loss or a lack of interest in reading or missed appointments and mishandled medications. Look and see if there are multiple, partially read books and magazines lying around, carefully examine prescription bottles, check the refill dates against the number of pills in the bottle to help determine if your senior loved one is taking medications regularly. You can also call the pharmacy to check on the status of timely refills.
Memory loss, forgetfulness, and confusion can also reveal themselves through miss doctor's appointments, improper placement of items around the house or making repeated phone calls to you at odd hours. Poor judgment can also come in the form of deciding against going to the doctor, because your parent just went last week, even though it was with a different doctor for a different health issue. Certainly, any or all of these signs can cause frustration and concern but don't worry, there are ways to cope and get help, but before we discuss the ways to take action, we're going to talk about one last place to look for clues and that is in your senior loved one's living environment.
Next time you go visit your loved one, take a really close look around. Poor housekeeping and lack of home maintenance are sure signs that something isn't right with your loved one. Specifically, take a look in the refrigerator, freezer and drawers. Has food spoiled because your parent isn't eating or is there nothing in there because he or she can't go to the store? If it's really messy, that could be a sign of having difficulty cleaning tight cluttered places. Look on top of furniture and counter tops? Are dishes piling up in the sink? Are dust and dirt signs that household tasks are simply becoming more difficult and are therefore going undone?
In addition, to examining what's at eye level, you should also take a closer look both up and down. Check out the fans and ceilings. Has the inability to lift arms and climb step-stools prevented your loved one from cleaning soot and grime from high places. Look down at floors and stairways. Have shaky hand spilled drinks and food soiling vinyl, wood, carpets and walkways? Are frayed carpets, throw rugs, objects, and furniture creating tripping hazards?
While you're looking down, you should also check under beds and sofas. Is there a new clutter lying about? For instance, is your senior having difficulty organizing old newspapers, books and magazines which are creating a fire hazard? Lastly, look through the mail. Are bills being paid and correspondence being answered? If not, it could be a sign of something serious.
All of these environmental clues point to the fact that something needs to be done to help your loved one remain independent. But what can you do? Where do you find help? What's the first step?
In our next video, we'll answer all of these questions and point you in the right direction to get the help you need.