It may not always be easy knowing exactly how to support someone you love in the right way and at the right time. Often times fear of embarrassment or appearing ‘weak’ means they won’t always reach out and ask for help.
Here are some tips, and things to look out for, which can be helpful in guiding you to be proactively involved in your aging loved ones wellbeing.
1) The Refrigerator
Check the refrigerator… is there enough food? What are the expiration dates?
2) The Car
Drive their car to check the state of the inspection, tires, oil and antifreeze
3) The Mailbox
Take a peek at the mail, and keep an eye out for unpaid bills
4) The Bathroom
Investigate the bathroom to check for cleanliness
5) The Pets
Take note at how any pets are doing…well groomed? enough food supply? routine well check visits to vet?
6) The Neighbors
Talk to the neighbors or close friends, establish a relationship so you are the first person they call if they have any concerns about your loved one
7) Their Medications
Check medications. Are they current? What are they for? Are they being taken correctly?
8) Their Safety
Is the shower being used as a clothes hanger instead of for bathing? (Sometimes fear of falling while getting into the shower means ceasing to use. Perhaps looking at installing grab safety bars and a shower seat would eliminate these fears).
9) Their Activity
Is your loved one not involved or engaged in things they have found enjoyment in for years (church, hobbies, outings)?
10) Their Appearance
Are they taking interest in their own personal self-care? Clothes clean, well groomed, etc.?
Someone may try to cover, or hide an illness or decline in health through withdrawal or excused away as forgetfulness. Someone suffering from early stages of Alzheimer’s disease or dementia may appear distant or irritable, and loneliness could be masked by depression or isolation.
What can you do? Give the gift of your time. Some of these 10 things can help gauge how concerned you should be, and if you need to get more involved or reach out for help.
Finally, take the time to really be present and available. Through thoughtful conversation and by taking the time to listen, they will feel comfortable to share things they are concerned about – opening a door for you to be able to help. If your concerns for their safety and wellbeing are great, reach out to a local professional to find resources in your area.