Sometimes it’s hard for seniors to admit they need help to stay at home, or they may not even be aware that it’s time for some extra help to maintain a healthy and safe home environment. Is your elderly loved one safe at home, or are there hidden dangers you’re unaware of? At North River Home Care, we utilize the following checklist to keep our finger on the pulse of each of our clients, and encourage you to use it as well for your loved ones:
1) Has the person lost weight? Did You Know? Losing weight without trying could be a sign that something’s wrong. For the elderly, weight loss could be related to many factors, including:
- Difficulty cooking. The person could be having difficulty finding the energy to cook, grasping the tools necessary to cook, reading labels or directions on food products, or getting groceries into the home.
- Loss of taste or smell. Some loss of taste and smell is natural with aging, especially after age 60. In other cases, illness or medication contributes to loss of taste or smell. The person might not be interested in eating if food doesn’t taste or smell as good as it used to.
- Underlying conditions. Sometimes weight loss is a sign of a more serious underlying condition, such as malnutrition, dementia, depression, or cancer.
2) Is the person taking care of his/her personal hygiene and dress? Did You Know? Failure to keep up with daily routines — such as bathing, tooth brushing, and other basic grooming — could indicate health problems such as dementia, depression, or physical impairments.
3) Is the home being maintained in good order? Did You Know? Any big changes in the way things are done around the house could provide clues to health. For example, scorched pots could mean forgetting about food cooking on the stove. Neglected housework could be a sign of depression, dementia, or other problems.
4) Is the older person in good spirits? Did You Know? A drastically different mood or outlook could be a sign of depression or other health concern.
5) Is the elderly person having difficulty getting around? Did You Know? Muscle weakness, joint problems and other age-related changes can make it difficult to move around. If he is unsteady on his feet, he may be at risk of falling — a major cause of disability among older adults.
6) Are multiple medications from multiple doctors being taken? Did You Know? Sometimes multiple doctors may be treating a person for multiple health conditions. Usually doctors are not in communication about other doctors’ prescriptions. Decline in functioning may be due to medication reactions/interactions. Have multiple prescriptions evaluated by a medical doctor skilled in polypharmacy (the knowledge of how various medications interact).
If any of these areas are cause for concern, the aging care experts at North River Home Care are here to help. Contact us for a free information packet, or call us at 781-659-1366 to learn more about how we can offer a helping hand to keep your loved one safe and independent at home.