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Effects of Aging
Published By Right at Home Caledon on November 16, 2018

Father sometimes leaves the garage door up all night with his keys in the car.  Mother stays in the same outfit for days and limits her bathing.  Uncle Henry has a desk stacked with piles of bills, health insurance letters and bank statements—all unopened.  At first, these behaviors seem a bit out of the ordinary, but now you are beginning to wonder if something is shifting in your elder loved ones’ health and daily care needs.

How ageing affects a family member may be gradual at first, but can quickly cause larger challenges.  If you bring up the subject to your older adult, he or she may just brush off the topic by stating, “I am fine.  There is no need to worry.”  Recognizing true limitations of ageing is not always clear-cut, but it may be time to seek outside help if you notice these differences in older adults:

  • Atypical behavior, such as increased agitation, speaking loudly or little talking at all

  • Communication and relationship changes with family and friends

  • Disengagement from social interactions

  • Neglect of personal care

  • Poor nutrition or weight loss or gain

  • Forgetfulness evidenced by unwashed laundry, scorched or dirty cookware, or piles of unopened mail

  • Missing important appointments and events

  • Financial mismanagement, such as unusual purchases or unpaid bills

  • Spoiled food that accumulates in the home and is not tossed out

  • Noticeable smell of urine or feces in the home

  • A growing collection of nicks and dents in the car

  • Confusion and uncertainty with accomplishing regular tasks

  • Difficulties with balance, walking or mobility

To help you better understand your loved one’s limitations and whether it is time to enlist the help of a professional caregiver, it is important to know where to start and how to navigate the questions and concerns.

“For many families, there comes a time for ‘the conversation’ with their older loved one about needing help with everyday activities,” explains Adrienne Wood, Care Planner Georgian Triangle and Barrie.  “Fortunately, it is a relief to know that experienced home healthcare professionals understand which ageing and health changes warrant caregiver help and when and how to take more purposeful steps to support your elder.”

The World Health Organization reports that the majority of elderly reside in low- or middle-income countries and this number is expected to increase to 80 percent by 2050.  The global ageing population increases the need for elder caregiving, but no one family caregiver can do it all.  As your older loved one’s condition begins to flux, here are suggestions for helping you move from guarded concern to appropriate action:

  • Document changes you notice in your elderly loved one.  Are there specific tasks he / she can no longer perform?  Is your loved one confused about medication dosages, or does he / she let prescriptions expire or not fill them at all?  Accompany your elder to doctor appointments so you can hear the medical information firsthand and speak directly with your loved one’s physician.

  • Involve siblings and significant decision-makers.  It is important to share the facts of your loved one’s care needs with your siblings and your elder’s medical and legal power of attorney representatives.  If relationship tensions of self-interests exist, now is the time to put these differences aside and focus on what is best for your elder.

  • Plan for a direct, yet loving conversation with your older loved one.  Think about what your family hopes to accomplish through your dialogue with your senior.  Appoint someone to lead the conversation.  Use open-ended questions.  Be sensitive to not overwhelm or ambush your ageing loved one.  Listen without judging or doling out advice.

  • Stay flexible on next steps.  Your family may need continued conversations over time to determine the best care for your elder.  The time in-between will allow for gathering additional resources or delegating care responsibilities.

As you observe signs of your loved one’s needs changing and plan to talk with your elder, Wood recommends Right at Home’s RightConversationsSM guide that offers tips and ideas for effective communication in the family caregiving process.  RightConversations supplemental tools include the Information Journal to help gather the older adult’s personal, medical, insurance and financial information; the Communication Planner to record details to include in conversations with your ageing loved one; and the Family Action Planner to organize care assistance needed and track delegated tasks for family members or service providers.

While it can be troubling to see forgetfulness, lapsed hygiene and other signs of ageing affect your older loved one, the good news is that many elderly are actually relieved their families notice and care.  In many cases, the elder can remain independent at home with the support of family members and professional in-home caregivers.

Changes in your older loved one’s daily comfort and safety are not to be ignored, but explored—all with caring solutions that encourage the health and well-being of your elder in the current days ahead and for years to come.

Right at Home senior care providers can assist with any changing needs and ensure your loved one feels safe and comfortable living at home. Visit our care page to see a list of Right at Home's nursing and assisted living services.

 


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