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. At first, these behaviors seemed a bit out of the ordinary, but now you are beginning to wonder if something is shifting in your older loved ones’ health and daily care needs.
How ageing affects a family member may be gradual at first, but can quickly cause larger challenges. 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
As you detect changes in your elder’s overall well-being, document the changes and then involve siblings and other care decision-makers in a discussion before talking with your ageing loved one. To help you navigate the questions and concerns, Right at Home’s RightConversationsSM Guide offers practical tips and ideas for effective communication in the family caregiving process. RightConversations also offers supplemental tools including an Information Journal, Communication Planner and Family Action Planner.
What changes are you noticing in your elder loved one and what care steps are you considering?