A Time to Reassess Care: Part 2

Interim HealthCare Blogs
Posted: 6/20/2017 2:06 PM by Interim HealthCare
If you are the primary caregiver for an elderly loved one who is living alone, you may want to use this guide to assess your loved ones’ current care situation to see if it is time for a change. (See Part 1)
2. Up-close signs it might be time for more assistance:
Give your loved one a big hug. Clues aren't always visible from a distance; especially if you don't see the person every day, you might learn more through touch.
Look for:
Noticeable weight loss. Does the person feel thinner? Are clothes loose, or has he added notches to his belt? Many conditions, from depression to cancer, can cause weight loss. A person who is having trouble getting out to shop or remembering how to cook (or to eat) can lose weight; check the fridge- is it empty? Full of spoiled food? Check expiration dates on staples and watch meal-prep skills. If your loved one has dentures, are they in use? If not ask why- if they are having mouth discomfort, dentures may need to be adjusted by a dentist. Inquire about oral hygiene, do they need reminders to floss and brush teeth?
Seeming more frail. Do you feel anything "different" about the person's strength and stature when you hug? Can your loved one rise easily from a chair? Does she or he seem unsteady or unable to balance? Compare these observations to the last time you were together.
Noticeable weight gain. Common causes include an injury slowing the person down, diabetes, and dementia (when someone doesn't remember eating, he or she may indulge in meals and snacks all day long). Someone with money troubles may choose fewer fresh foods and more packaged goods or dried pasta and bread.
Strange body odor. Unfortunately, a close hug can also reveal changes in personal hygiene habits. Causes range from memory trouble to depression to other physical ailments or simple fear of falling in or around the shower or tub. Do they have grab bars in the bathroom?
Changes in appearance. Does the person's hair and makeup look all right? Are clothes clean? Someone known for crisply ironed shirts who's now in a stained sweatshirt may lack the dexterity for buttons or may have lost the strength for managing an ironing board and iron. A formerly clean-shaven man with an unkempt beard may be forgetting to shave (or forgetting how to shave).
These are just a few of the signs that your elderly loved one may need more help and supervision.
You don’t have to care for them all by yourself. Help is available for those who ask.
Know your options before making changes, and always involve your loved one in conversations about a move or any change to their current routine.