The superheroes aren’t the ones in the latest blockbuster movie, they’re the ones who care for aging mothers, fathers, spouses, even neighbors. The load isn’t an easy one to carry and often, these individuals juggle full-time jobs and soccer practices with the daily checks on Mom.
Whether you live across the street, across town or across the ocean from an aging loved one, it’s likely you worry—or will, one day—about that person’s health, safety and security. So, what can you do when aging starts to affect your mother, father, aunt, uncle or someone else you love? How can you help? And how do you know, exactly, when help is needed? Here are four early signs that your aging loved one may need more help.
1. An messy house
Many independent seniors live in the homes they once raised their children in. Though filled with memories, the rooms, stairs and yard can become a challenge for aging hands to upkeep. An overgrown shrub or dusty china cabinet are subtle signs that your loved one may no longer be able to or have the desire to keep up the house.
2. Changes in mobility
For aging loved ones, changes in mobility can create big struggles and make living independently difficult. But again, the signs can be subtle at first. Maybe the usual Christmas decorations aren’t up because Mom has trouble carrying them up from the basement? Maybe Dad moved all his things to one room so he could access them more easily. Falls are the biggest sign that mobility, a serious one that forces many families to make hard decisions quickly. Notice the small signs before a crisis, like a fall, occurs.
Depression is a serious concern with older adults. The loss of a spouse, friends or functionality can cause serious emotional issues for individuals getting older. Signs your aging loved one may be dealing with depression include a decline in self-care and isolation. Emotional wellness is an important, and often forgotten about aspect of senior healthcare. Senior centers and communities provide social and enrichment opportunities that can help aging loved ones.
4. Memory loss
Memory loss is not a normal part of aging. If your loved one exhibits occasional forgetfulness, it’s generally not a problem, but when that forgetfulness becomes more frequent, a more serious issue may be at hand. Does your loved one frequently forget appointments, common words or the uses of common objects? They all may be causes for concern.
Senior living communities are a first thought of next-step in these circumstances. And while these communities range in care levels and are sometimes the best choice, they’re nowhere near the only option. Non-medical professionals can come to the home and help clean, work on the lawn, cook dinner and even provide companionship. Knowing the options out there and the signs are important first steps.