Visiting family and friends over the holidays is a great time to also check on their well being without being obtrusive. Some things, like obvious confusion or falls, are obvious. There are also more subtle signs that there may be an issue.
A 7 item checklist:
1. Take a look in the refrigerator and cabinets. Are they bare or well stocked? Is food outdated? These signs may indicate a decrease in appetite or trouble getting to the store.
2. Is the person clean and wearing clean clothes? Ignoring personal hygiene might be a sign of depression, dementia or difficulty performing household tasks.
3. Is there an unexpected weight loss? This can also indicate depression, poor eating habits or trouble obtaining or preparing food.
4. Has the cable or phone been cut off or do you see mail that hasn't been dealt with? Unpaid bills could indicate forgetfulness or confusion. A financial check up and assistance with finances may be in order.
5. Does the person seem confused or lost in a familiar situation? This may indicate the onset of confusion that can be unsafe.
6. Are appointments and activities being kept? Missing a weekly card game or doctor's appointments may be a sign of forgetfulness, depression or trouble with transportation.
7. Are basic details being forgotten? Is the thread of a conversation easily lost? These may be the initial signs of dementia or indicate an infection or other medical issue.
It is important to remember that memory loss and occasional disorientation can be a normal part of aging. It is when the memory loss affects one’s ability to function that it is no longer normal.
There are so many options available to assist people if they begin having problems when they are aging. Reach out to a geriatric care manager, a geriatrician or primary care doctor and to community resources when help is needed.
Happy Holidays from Ease Living!