Assessing Age-Related Declines
At Asbury, our health services professionals have had many conversations with adult children who are concerned about a parent. Typically, they are beginning to see signs of cognitive and physical changes that come with aging, but are not sure whether the parent’s living situation is dangerous – or whether it is time for them to step in and confront the parent with their concerns.
Helping someone see and accept that they are facing challenges is an emotionally difficult task that can be further complicated if multiple siblings are involved. For a thorough discussion of this topic and expert advice, please read our Asbury Perspective blog, “Difficult Conversations” post.
If the person has been diagnosed with dementia, the answer is clear: seek assistance now. But if the path isn’t so clear, how do you know when your concerns are justified? Don’t dismiss those gut feelings; hunches don’t often come from nowhere.
Take a look at the following checklist. If you are routinely noticing several of these issues, it may be time to discuss scheduling a doctor’s visit that would include an assessment for age-related safety issues.
- Missing appointments, forgetfulness and confusion regarding medications
- Unexplained bruising or marks on his or her body
- Repeated phone calls at odd hours
- Trouble getting up from a seated position or with walking, balance and mobility
- Infrequent showering and bathing or strong smell of urine in the house
- Decline in grooming habits, dressing habits and personal care
- Uncertainty and confusion when performing once-familiar tasks
- Household chores are going undone
- Spoiled food in the home that doesn’t get thrown away
- Poor diet or weight loss
- Scorched pots and pans
- Stacks of unopened mail, late payments or bounced checks
- Loss of interest in hobbies and activities
- Changes in mood or extreme mood swings
- Unexplained dents and scratches on a car
- Symptoms of depression such as lack of interest in old activities, loneliness, crying or listlessness
Being Prepared to Help: A Checklist
- Gather current records of your parents’ health insurance, medical history, physicians and contact numbers and medications. Update them every six months.
- Make a list of important documents and information such as a will and living wills, bank, investment and credit card accounts, social security number and insurance policies.
- Get a basic outline of your parents’ monthly expenses and income.
- Suggest creating power of attorney and advance directive documents.
- Conduct a home safety assessment for hazards. Click here for a detailed Home Safety Assessment checklist.
- When hiring caregivers, interview the company and the caregiver that would be assigned. Make sure the agency conducts thorough background checks.
- Research what aging services – including transportation – are available in your hometown so you are prepared if an emergency arises. Contact your local Office on Aging for information.