Medication – The average person over 65 takes between two and seven mediations each day. Imagine trying to keep straight which medications are taken once, twice, or three times per day. With food? On an empty stomach? As needed? Until you feel better? Or until all the medication is gone? If you forget to take a dose should you take it now, skip it, double up next time you’re supposed to take a dose? Are the pink pills for pain or the blue pills? Often, just having a consistent and accurate medication schedule can significantly improve a senior’s life.
Food – Keep track of what your senior eats for a week. Are they following any diet restrictions or recommendations their doctor has made? Are they not eating, either because they forgot or they don’t have the energy or ability to cook healthy meals? Are they surviving on a steady diet of junk food without enough healthy fruits and vegetables? Is it difficult for them to get to the grocery store regularly for fresh food or are they overlooking expiration dates and eating food that’s going bad?
Emergencies – We’re faced with emergency situations everyday. There are the big ones like falling down the stairs or starting a fire and smaller ones like raccoons tipping over your garbage cans or a water boil advisory. Is your senior able to deal with an emergency or decide who they should contact for help? Do they have a willing support system who can help them with challenges or are the people they rely upon relatives who live hours away or emergency personnel (great for the falling down stairs scenario but not great for the raccoon bandit scenario).
Cleanliness – Take a close look at your senior and their home. Has cleanliness or neatness fallen by the wayside? Are they wearing dirty clothes? Have they lost important papers in a clutter of old newspapers and junk mail? Why? Is the upkeep of a house or personal hygiene chores just too much for them to handle?
Forgetfulness – We’re all familiar with the annoying “senior moments” when we can’t remember an acquaintance’s name or why we wandered into the den. And as adult children, we’re all on a worried lookout for signs of dementia or Alzheimer’s Disease such as the inability to perform familiar tasks such as placing a telephone call. But there’s also a forgetfulness in between those two extremes that can cause problems. Forgetting medication, to lock the door at night, to turn off the stove, anything that can cause a safety issue.
Illness/injuries – Does your senior have injuries they are unwilling or unable to explain? Bumps, cuts or falls? They may be too frail to negotiate obstacles in their home such as stairs or long distances. Even getting in and out of a traditional bed can become problematic as seniors age. Do they frequently have illnesses that might be avoided by better self care: improved nutrition, wearing proper clothing for the weather, better personal hygiene?
Tall Tales – Has your senior told you any tall tales lately? That they’re eating well, taking their medication properly, have plenty of visitors, washed the dishes? Sometimes the tall tales are a matter of not wanting you to worry, other times they’ve forgotten or wish what they’re telling you was true. No matter what the reason for the tall tales, if it means their quality of life is declining perhaps they need the help assisted living communities can offer.