It may be one of the more difficult parts of watching your parents, grandparents or loved ones get older, but coming to the realization that an elderly person needs an assisted living arrangement is an integral part of helping them maintain mental and physical health in old age. People who live alone and lose the ability to care for themselves are at a serious risk of injury, accidents, malnutrition or failure to adhere to their medication regimen.
While the decision will ultimately be left up to the senior's health care provider and their closest living relative, there are signs that it's time to begin having the discussion of how to care for an elderly person.
1. They experience sudden weight loss. While this may simply be a sign of decreased appetite associated with aging or another illness, it could also be a signal that an elderly person is forgetting to eat or has lost the ability to cook for themselves.
2. They display a lack of personal hygiene. Dirty clothes, an apparent need to bathe or ungroomed hair may signal forgetfulness or a loss of motor skills. Additionally, they may be experiencing arthritis pain that makes these tasks painful.
3. You notice burns or signs of injury. This could indicate weakness, poor balance, substance abuse or forgetfulness.
4. They are not taking their medication as prescribed. Proper use of certain drugs can make a big difference in how well a person maintains their abilities with age. If you notice that their prescriptions are old, are not being taken regularly or are being consumed too rapidly, this may be a sign that assistance is needed in medication adherence.
5. Their cognition appears to be declining. Poor memory, difficulty communicating or paranoia may all be early signs of dementia. Additionally, individuals with this mental condition may begin displaying abnormal behavior, such as wearing winter clothing during warm weather.
6. Their finances are getting out of control. If your parents or loved ones are getting constant calls from creditors or if you notice extreme poor spending habits, like donating very large amounts of money to strange organizations, this could be a sign of declining cognition or a general lack of ability to maintain a budget, which is especially important for retired individuals.