Written by Marcie Droll-Durian
Often times as the holidays approach us, we anticipate and are planning trips home to see our loved ones. Often, adult children or grandchildren are coming home to see their aging parents and grandparents, whom they haven’t seen for a long time, perhaps since a year ago at this time. Much to their dismay, a lot can change in a year with an elderly person!
- Forgetfulness — They may talk to dad and mom on the phone weekly, and they sound like they are doing great, but the house is in total disarray when they arrive, and things such as unmailed birthday cards are laying on the table when mom would never forget a birthday card! These “little things” may be a sign that other things are being forgotten, such as medications, meals, bathing, ect. Over a period of time, these forgotten steps in their day can lead to weight-loss, advanced illness, lack of balance resulting in falls, which can be quickly devastating to an elderly individual!
- Lack of social activities — Are mom and dad still going to activities such as coffee or bridge with friends, or do you not hear them talk about those things? You may want to ask, as this could be a sign that there is a reason for not going to activities that they used to enjoy. Maybe they don’t feel safe driving, yet don’t want to say anything for fear they will have to give up their keys. Maybe it is more difficult to follow conversation due to hearing loss or the increased stimulus of many conversations creates inability to follow due to cognitive changes.
- Hygiene concerns — Does it appear that dad and mom have not been bathing as much, especially compared to when mom always had her hair done once a week and dad was impeccably shaved and had his hair groomed everyday? This could be a sign of fear of falling if they get into the shower or lack of motivation due to feeling more depressed as their situation changes.
Just these simple signs alone can be a signal that the ability of mom and dad to live alone may be questionable. It is best to explore your options at these signs before things become worse. They may need to look at an assisted-living community where they can get meals, have meds administered, help with bathing, and help with housekeeping. You and they may be surprised at the social opportunities that exist, and your parents may feel like they are living life again! Wouldn’t that be more favorable to come home to next year?
LivWell Seniors serves as a local agency providing community based resources that are 100 percent free to seniors and their families. They are funded by the senior care providers that utilize their service and network of connections. For further information, contact us at
563-265-1577, or visit our website at www.livwellseniors.com.