5 Signs That an Ageing Senior Needs Additional Help
Assessing whether an elderly family member requires additional assistance can often be difficult as you may not be nearby to see the signs, or they may simply downplay their illness to maintain their independence for longer. In any case, this can be a difficult situation to navigate as you may not know the signs to look out for, or how to approach the topic if the conversation is needed.
In light of this, it is vital to the well-being of the seniors in your life and to your relationship with them that you approach the conversation with the highest level of empathy and care. We've highlighted the five signs to look for when assessing if an ageing senior in your life requires further assistance, as well as how to approach the discussion when the time comes.
Changes in Their Personal Routine
A noticeable change in a senior's personal routine is often a tell-tale sign that they may require additional help. This could look like them neglecting their personal hygiene, missing their doctor appointments, changes in their sleep patterns, or unsanitary living conditions that are not being attended to. While it’s common to occasionally have a change in routine during a busy week, a drastic change in their routine and habits that continues to become a pattern should not be taken lightly or dismissed, and it is imperative to keep a lookout for these changes.
You Become Concerned For Their Personal Safety
As seniors age, you may notice some patterns that make you question their safety; for instance, if they have trouble climbing stairs, or if they can't seem to remember how to get to their favourite coffee shop without getting lost. An obvious way to look out for these signs without having to ask is by looking out for any bruises, scrapes, or cuts on a senior's body.
A senior’s driving habits are also important to look out for to ensure their safety on the road. One way to look out for changes in their driving includes checking for dents or scratches on the car, piled-up tickets, or citations. To read further about the signs to look out for with seniors driving and how to approach this conversation, visit our care blog.
While forgetfulness, such as forgetting where you placed an object or taking longer to learn new things, can be considered a normal process of ageing, there are important signs to look out for that may indicate it’s time to visit a doctor. This includes:
- Repeating a question or story repeatedly
- Difficulty in finding your way around familiar spaces
- Increased confusion about people or the time
- Trouble with written or verbal communication
- Changes in problem-solving abilities
If you notice any of these changes in a senior's cognitive abilities, It is vital to receive an evaluation from a medical professional to determine the root cause.
Mental Health Struggles
Seniors struggling with reduced mobility, a decline in functional ability, developing a routine after retirement, grief, and loneliness are often prone to struggling with mental health issues such as depression and anxiety. During these times, it is imperative to be mindful of their emotional well-being. Some common signs you may notice when the mental health of a senior is declining may include:
- Loss of interest in hobbies they previously enjoyed
- Oversleeping or not getting enough rest
- Difficulty remembering or concentrating
- Eating more or less than usual
- Communicates feelings of sadness, helplessness, and/or worthlessness
- Isolation and social withdrawal
- Unusual fatigue
- Changes in their appearance
Changes in a senior's mental health require just as much attention and care as changes seen in a physical illness. It is important to not only seek medical help when it comes to their mental health but to also ensure that you are regularly checking up on your loved ones and helping them develop a healthy lifestyle that includes a balanced diet and physical activity.
Changes in Their Financial Habits
You may notice some changes in their financial habits, such as overdue bills, a dramatic increase in their spending habits, or your loved one making large withdrawals from their accounts without accounting for their financial status. If you notice these changes in their financial habits, you may wish to start a conversation on your concerns.
How to Approach the Conversation Surrounding Their Senior Living Options?
It's never easy to have a conversation with your family about senior living, especially with your parents. To begin the conversation, consider these tips:
Involve a Sibling or Family Member
Address your concerns with other family members and ask if they support your decision by speaking to your loved ones about their care options. This will not only help you get additional viewpoints on the matter, but they may also provide you with support with scheduling doctor's calls and finding assistance.
Remain Patient and Come From a Place of Empathy
As this is a difficult conversation to navigate, it is critical to approach the conversation with caution and empathy as they may be in denial and resistant to having the conversation. It is imperative to remain calm and respectful of their wishes and to remain objective while listening to what they have to say. Ensure that you are picking a suitable time to have the conversation, and if needed, contact a mediator such as their primary doctor to navigate their options for long-term care.
If you notice any of the signs or changes mentioned above, it’s important to take proactive steps to get your loved ones the care they need to overall improve their quality of life. It may be difficult to come to terms with the fact that a loved one requires additional support with daily living, but once you've acknowledged the need for support, there are a variety of tools available to make the following stages as simple as possible.