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Signs Your Aging Loved One Might Need Help

Here are some signs to look out for that might indicate that your aging loved one needs help.

Aging can mean wonderful things like freedom from the daily grind of a job and more opportunities to travel and spend time with family.

Aging may also mean some physical limitations that make it difficult to function in the same way as in years past. Those limitations can be frustrating, and people experiencing them may try to hide them. It’s not uncommon for people to suspect that their aging loved one needs some help but doesn’t want to ask for it.

“The problem is, that older adults are often resistant to receiving assistance from their grown children — even (and, sometimes, especially) when they desperately need it,” according to Aging Care.

That means that often, it will fall to you to notice issues and then respectfully start a discussion. Here are some signs to look out for that might indicate that your aging loved one needs help.

Home life observations

  • Spoiled food in the refrigerator
  • Inability to do simple housework
  • Neglect of bills and finances
  • Difficulty driving or recent car accidents
  • Stove or other household appliances not shut off after use
  • Failure to take medications, refill prescriptions or go to doctor appointments

Physical behaviors

  • Falls or trouble with balance
  • Difficulty with hygiene tasks
  • Noticeable weight loss, diminished appetite or forgetting to eat
  • Incontinence
  • Sleep disturbances
  • Clothing that is worn repeatedly, soiled or inappropriate for weather

Emotional and cognitive behaviors

  • Mood swings and personality changes
  • Withdrawal from friends and family
  • Diminished cognitive abilities
  • Communication difficulties
  • Easily confused or frustrated
  • Increased impulsivity
  • Forgetfulness or other memory problems
  • Loss of judgment and concentration

These signs don’t necessarily mean the person displaying them needs outside help but, especially if you notice several of these signs, it’s time for a conversation.

“It's a good idea to discuss concerns together as a family to make decisions that are best for everyone,” says Melissa Morante, Co-Owner of ComForCare Senior Services says. “Your loved one likely considers independence to be an important part of life. That’s why home health care can be helpful.”

Home health care means your family member can continue living independently and still get assistance with the little — or big — tasks they can no longer handle alone. It could be temporary help after an injury or more long-term help as aging makes certain tasks impossible for your loved one to handle alone.

Such tasks could include temporary or permanent help with bathing and showering, hair styling, help in and out of bed, help with dressing, incontinence care, medication reminders, , support with household chores, planning the day's schedule and meal preparation.

The key is to make sure an elderly person openly accepts these services and doesn’t feel forced into getting care. Have a conversation that is respectful and emphasizes your desire to find a solution that works for everyone. Ask questions, and listen to what your family member wants.

“Talk as you would to any other adult,” Morante recommends. “Do not patronize or speak to them like they’re children. Approach them as equals, with respect and consideration, and you will get a much better response.”

Aging is natural, and there is no reason to fear it. With the right help and respectful support, your loved one can continue to enjoy their twilight years on their own terms.

ComForCare of Palm Beach Gardens is the premier provider of private-duty, non-medical home health care allowing people to age comfortably, safely and happily in place. Services include meal preparation, light housekeeping, grooming and hygiene help, transportation assistance, medication reminders and more. Caregivers can even go on walks with those they care for or help them safely complete approved exercise routines. To learn more, visit comforcare.com/palmbeach.

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