As the holidays draw closer, you may be preparing to visit aging loved ones after a long break. With the pandemic making long-distance and local visits difficult here in Texas, it’s wise to make the most of every second you get to spend with loved ones. These holiday visits are a great time to assess elderly relatives’ well-being. As you reminisce with them, keep an eye out for the following warning signs that can indicate the need for community care.
A Lot of Unopened Mail
This sign is often overlooked, but it can provide valuable insights into a person’s mental and physical health outside of an assisted living setting. If your elderly relative has always been highly organized, but they’re letting mail pile up, it could indicate a problem with their cognition, vision, or finances. Consider helping them schedule an appointment for an eye exam, or if they’re in financial trouble, enlist the aid of a family member who’s good at managing money.
A Decrease in Social Connectedness
Especially during a time of social isolation, it’s important to note how loneliness affects aging loved ones. Does the person maintain social interaction such as weekly phone calls, video chats with family members, or socially distant get-togethers? Are they keeping up with their hobbies, or has their mood changed drastically? If your loved one doesn’t seem like his or her normal self, it may be time to dig a little deeper.
Damage to Garages and Vehicles
During your visit to a Texas loved one, do a quick walk-around of their property, including the garage. Note any signs of damage, such as scratches and scrapes on walls, cracked side mirrors, body damage, and dings. If one or more of these signs appear, it may show that the person’s driving skills are in decline. Ask them to go on a short ride and assess their driving, and if anything seems amiss, seek professional advice.
Physical Appearance Changes and a Lack of Cleanliness
If your family member’s physical appearance has changed since the last visit, it may indicate physical or cognitive limitations. Look for signs like poor grooming, dirty clothing, unclean hair, and visible weight loss. These indicators are worth a doctor’s visit, as conditions such as dementia can cause aged relatives to forget to eat, bathe, and groom themselves.
Significant Cognitive Decline
Take note of signs of memory loss and cognitive impairment. Just as with a person’s physical appearance, it’s not done to criticize or judge—but to evaluate their safety, health, and well-being. Does the person tend to repeat themselves often? Are they easily confused? Do they have difficulty with basic instructions? All these can be warning signs of dementia, medicinal side effects, and underlying conditions that require memory care.
The Health of Pets
While a cat or a dog can provide valuable companionship to an elderly person, their care may present challenges. If your family member’s pet looks shabby, thin, old, or unkempt, it may show that animal care has become an undue task. For the person’s and the animal’s sake, it may be worthwhile to invest in grooming, pet walking, and veterinary services—and in some cases, it may be necessary to find the animal a new home.
Conditions at Home
This tip may seem basic, but it’s worth repeating. If your family member’s home isn’t as neat, clean, and organized as it used to be, it’s another sign of declining cognitive and physical capability. Mold, mildew, pests, spoiled food, and general uncleanliness are all signs that a person may need extra help to stay safe and clean at home.
Get Your Loved One the Help They Need
If you visit a family member for the holidays and notice any of these warning signs, it can indicate that the person needs additional help in the form of an assisted living community. It’s important for families, including distant ones, to take these signs seriously and not wait to reach out for help. With the right assisted living community, even out-of-state families will have the reassurance that their members are happy, healthy, comfortable, and safe.
At Orchard Park of Kyle, we provide support for the elderly and their families. When your family partners with us, you’ll work with people you can trust for guidance, help, and support. Call today to find out how our team can help you talk to an aging family member about the importance of senior care and how it can improve their health, well-being, and quality of life. Visit us online or call today to schedule a tour.