As a Record Number of Seniors Are Living Alone, Aging Experts Offer 7 Warning Signs to Look for During Summer Visits to Older Family Members and Friends
As millions of Americans travel during the summer, many adult children will spend time with their aging parents and loved ones. A record number of these older Americans are living alone. A government report found that 12.5 million older Americans — fully half of women age 75 or older — now live by themselves.
If you are traveling to visit family and “checking-in” on older loved ones this summer, it is important to look for signs that aging loved ones need help or attention.
To help, members of the Aging Life Care Association™ compiled this list of key questions to ask and warning signs to look for during your summer visit.
Look for these 7 potential warning signs that could mean your aging loved ones need medical attention or more assistance to continue living independently:
1. Changes in Physical Appearance: Do you notice either significant weight loss or weight gain? Do you notice any bumps or bruises that may indicate they have had falls?
2. Loss of Mobility: Do you notice any increased difficulty in walking or getting in and out of chairs/sofas? Do they appear less steady on their feet?
3. Decline in Home Cleanliness and Repair: Does their home look clean and well maintained or is it in need of cleaning and/or repairs? Is trash and/or clutter accumulating? Does it smell of urine or feces?
4. Reduced Ability to Prepare Healthy Meals: Do you notice a change in the kinds of foods they have (no more fresh fruits/vegetables, more frozen meals and canned goods)? Are their appliances like the stove, microwave and refrigerator in working order? Is there adequate food? Any spoiled food present?
5. Changes in Mood, Memory or Behavior: Do you notice your loved one constantly repeating things? Are you noticing increased confusion? Are you hearing from their friends that something has changed in their mood or behavior? Are they having difficulty carrying on an extended conversation? Are they showing irritability or apathy? Are they reporting more difficulty sleeping?
6. Changes in Routine: Do you notice stacks of unopened mail? Are bills not getting paid? Are medications being taken? Are prescriptions not being refilled? Are medical appointments being missed or follow-ups not being made? Have they cut back on outside/social activities.
7. Decline in Personal Hygiene: Are you noticing your loved one is unkempt, not dressing during the day like they used to; not showering and wearing dirty clothing when they do get dressed?
These are just a few warning signs that an older adult may need medical attention or other assistance. If one or more of these warning signs are detected, it might be time to bring in a professional to help.
Aging Life Care Professionals™ are an important resource to older adults and families who need assistance. With expertise and day-to-day experience in the community, Aging Life Care Professionals can guide aging adults and their families to the best decisions and best solutions. Beginning with an in-depth assessment, a care plan is created by the Aging Life Care Professional and family. Together, they arrive at the best possible options.
It is difficult for many adult children to navigate through the myriad of options, especially when they are at a distance, working, and/or raising their own children. Find an Aging Life Care™ Expert at aginglifecare.org so that you don’t have to go it alone.
This blog is used with permission from Aging Life Care Association and is for informational purposes only and does not constitute, nor is it intended to be a substitute for, professional advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Information on this blog does not necessarily reflect official positions of the Aging Life Care Association™ and is provided “as is” without warranty. Always consult with a qualified professional with any particular questions you may have regarding your or a family member’s needs.