Whether you’re concerned about the safety and well being of your father, neighbor or close family friend, most of us at some point will need to take action in some form of another to help those in our life stay safe. Does your widowed mother live alone but struggle to cook herself meals anymore? Are you concerned about your uncle’s progressive Alzheimer’s condition and worry he is risking his own safety by continuing to live independently? Is your aunt losing weight? For the most important answers to your questions, we have them here. Know how to read the signs directing you to seek help for the safety and well being for the senior in your life.
Saving lives isn’t just about rescuing children from burning buildings. It’s also about paying close attention to the seniors in your life and stepping in to ‘save the day’ when they can no longer help themselves. Do they need assisted living? Perhaps. Is it your place to search out available options for them? Absolutely.
Seeing a parent age, change and develop everyday challenges they have never had before can make you feel like the tide is turning. After all, hasn’t it always been their job to take care of you? Asking yourself the following, however, can ease the discomfort: are they safer alone or with a caregiver? As uncomfortable as approaching the topic of assisted living may be, could you live with yourself if something happened to them while they were alone at home? What if your mother or father fell and couldn’t get up to call 911? Am I doing what’s best for mom/dad? If you can’t give yourself a definitive ‘yes’, it’s time to do something about it. And, chances are, you’ll be saving their life in the process.
Sign #1: They Are No Longer Able to Drive
Many of us take for granted the simple, everyday things in life we don’t have difficulty doing. Driving, for example, is something most of us do every day without hassle. If the senior in your life no longer feels comfortable driving themselves to the neighborhood store or has recently had their driver’s license taken away, it’s time to consider how independent they really are. How will they get fresh milk and eggs during the week? Who will drive them to their doctor’s appointments? Whereas driving was once an easy thing to do, now it has become something intolerable, and it’s up to you to consider assisted living or caregiver opportunities to help supplement the tasks they can no longer handle themselves.
Sign #2: They Are Depressed
Seniors don’t just experience physical changes such as arthritis, increased medication intake or trouble remembering those things they used to. An emotional hardship can arise in which case depression is very common. Have you witnessed changes in their personality? If your aging mother has always been a positive and upbeat kind of person, does she now have a difficult time getting out of bed or seem ‘down’? If you are concerned about your parent’s new temperament and equally concerned about their ability to hear you out on the matter, ease into this conversation gently. If they aren’t quite ready to get the help you feel they need, it may take patience on your part and require a couple of casual conversations in which you can tell them how concerned you are for their emotional and physical health. If they see your level of concern for them, chances are they will be more receptive and willing to share their feelings.
Sign #3: Is Their Home Maintenance Too Much to Keep Up With?
Whether your mom or dad has lived in their home for the past five years or fifty years, it can be hard to be receptive to change in the household. Daily chores can quickly mount up and become dangerous when it’s too much for a senior to keep up with. Whether it’s a pile of dirty dishes, the prevention of mold or just raking leaves that are too difficult to handle themselves, it may be time to consider the resources at hand. If you’re senior doesn’t want to live anywhere else but their home (which is perfectly understandable) seek out at-home nursing care. This will allow them to stay in the privacy of their home while also keeping them safe from harm.
Sign #4: Do They Feel Isolated?
Many seniors who are no longer physically safe living alone are also struggling with feeling extremely alone and isolated. Whether they are a widower or not, the chances that their friends are suffering from illness and/or dying, is inevitable. Has your aging parent experienced a decline in their social life? If they have always had a close group of friends in their age group, there’s a good chance that the difficulties your senior experiences is the same that their friends are experiencing. It can be hard for many of them to get around, which can mean cancelled lunch dates or even difficulty picking up the phone for a chat.
Sign #5: Their Safety is at Risk
The biggest sign that a senior should no longer live alone is their inability to remain safe. Pay attention to their daily challenges. Is their arthritis growing worse? Is the doctor increasing their medication? Do they fall more often or have they had a fall recently that resulted in hospitalization? Has their judgment been compromised because of confusion, alcohol or pain? While some senior go through periods of having home related injuries, it will often not get better but worse with time. Give the senior in your life the best gift you possibly can by keeping them safe from harm. There are many options available, from at-home part time or full time nursing care; independent living complexes and assisted living programs available for nearly everyone’s budget.
Whether you identify one of the above signs or all of them, start seeking out available resources in your area now. What will result is peace of mind and the confidence that no matter what you and the senior in your life decide, you’re keeping them safe and well cared for.
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