Caring for an aged loved one is an emotional balancing act. On the one hand, you’ll need to keep their spirits up. A strong sense of independence and self-reliance helps. At the same time, there’s also the concern of accidents occurring as they go out and about. However, going overboard with preventative measures can be restrictive too. It’s a delicate balance to be maintained – facilitating self-reliance versus in-home health care. There is probably never a right time to raise this discussion. However, there are some signs you can look out for that might show it’s time to consider in-home nursing and support services.
1. Messy, unkempt house
You may have noticed it on your previous visits. But it keeps recurring time and again. Household chores can be tiring even for the young and able-bodied. But as you age, it takes a lot out of you. When the house begins to lose it’s neat, tidy and organised look, it’s a sign they may not be physically able to do the household cleaning because of ill health or deterioration of mobility and function.
2. An empty fridge and expired food
Walking or driving to the shops is a must-do for many elderly. It’s a matter of pride for some of them (1). For them, it’s never a chore until the walk or drive gets too much to handle. As a result, the fridge or pantry runs low on stock and you’ll find food that has passed its expiry dates. These are tell-tale signs of physical weakness and declining physical and mental wellness. A home nursing service is an option to be explored.
3. A dent, scratch or fine
Are they still driving? Have you noticed any dents or scratches lately? Are there parking or traffic fines suddenly appearing? If they’ve had a clean driving record, the dents, scratches and fines are simmering signs of a problem at hand. They may be experiencing problems handling a routine activity. Given it affects their personal safety as well as others, restrictions may have to be put in place. Ill health or weakness is becoming a hindrance and potential hazard when they’re behind the wheel. Most importantly is their safety and the safety of others. If these events occur its time to speak to a doctor about further advice.
4. Their personal appearance
Regardless of age, most people want to look good. For as long as one is willing and able, not a strand of hair will be out of place. They take pride in their personal grooming despite their age. But when they begin to appear dishevelled, things aren’t the same any longer. The change can be abrupt. This is an early cue that things might not be right and a discussion with a G.P. is a good place to start.
5. Personal hygiene
This follows the above closely. It’s either they are incapable of doing what they used to do themselves or they’re oblivious to their lack of personal hygiene. Both clearly indicate some help at home or in-home aged care is needs to be considered.
Memory loss and dementia are increasingly common in the elderly. The severity varies from one to the other. When a loved one skips his/her medication or can’t remember where the car keys are, living on their own becomes a risk to themselves and to others. Having home health nurse or In-home aged care routinely come by to ensure they take medication and are ready as prescribed can help prevent these incidents. Always discuss deterioration in decision making and memory with a G.P.
The risk of falls is highest in the elderly than other age groups. Despite the aids to keep them steady, the fact remains they have grown frailer. Negotiating steps or tight corners can be a challenge. They will experience difficulties getting about the house. Should they live alone, the risks of falls and the after effects of injuries sustained only gets worse. Having a home nurse helps address any injuries quickly, and help prevent future mishaps.
8. Sudden weight loss or gain
They are never a good sign regardless of age. But if it occurs in the elderly, it’s a major cause for concern. Poor appetite can be a sign of illness, forgetting to eat is a reality though strange it may sound. Maintaining a healthy diet is important. In the elderly, they’ll need help to keep their diet in check. In home aged care can help bring routine to meal times and ensure elderly patients are well fed and cared for.
9. Loneliness and isolation
When their network begins to shrink, loneliness will set in. This feeling of isolation can be harmful. Isolation and loneliness have been linked to a variety of conditions, such as heart disease, depression and anxiety, weakened immune system. Make a note of the size of their social network. If suddenly they’re no longer seeing friends or going out in a social capacity, something’s amiss. Linking your loved one to a local seniors group might help curb any loneliness and isolation.
10. Unopened mail
They belong to the slow mail generation. Hence, not opening one is equivalent to a young person ignoring his/her email or Whatsapp. It’s a sign of something is not well.
Caring for an elderly loved one can be difficult, but assistance from an in home health nurse can make it easier, for you and your loved one. To learn more about the tell-tale signs shared here, Contact Vital Home Health to discuss.