A loss of independence is inevitable as you grow older. Sometimes admitting that you need a helping hand is the hardest step. If an elderly friend or relative is refusing help, it’s important to keep a close eye on them in order to spot when it is time to intervene.
There may come a point where their health declines so much that they are no longer able to look after themselves properly. Therefore, it is often down to relatives, friends or neighbours to recognise the signs. So, what should you look for?
If they normally take good care of themselves but look dishevelled or are wearing dirty clothes, this could be a sign they need assistance. They may be unable to do up buttons, or put up and use an ironing board to iron. Also, a formerly clean-shaven man growing a beard may mean they are unable to shave, or are forgetting to do so. Similarly, the way make-up is applied can demonstrate whether a person is having difficulties.
Losing weight can indicate various illnesses, as well as not going shopping or cooking for themselves. Weight gain can demonstrate reliance on fast foods, bread, pasta and snacks, indicating that they are unable to provide themselves with the nutrition they need.
How do they cope with having a bad cold? Were they able to go to the GP or pharmacist to obtain the correct medicines? Or was it left to develop into a more serious problem? Also, have they had prangs in their car, or have they fallen over? These incidents are likely to happen more frequently as they grow older.
Is Their Home a Mess?
A messy house can indicate a physical or neurological issue and of course, items left on the floor are a tripping hazard. Spills that haven’t been cleaned, thick dust, mould and grime in the bathroom can be signals that they are not coping with the demands of looking after a house.
Keep an Eye on Their Post
Keep an eye out for piles of unopened mail and for letters thanking the person for donations, as some unscrupulous types do prey on the elderly. Also, look out for unopened bills, which could indicate that they are struggling to keep on top of their finances.
Has Their Social Life Diminished?
Do they get out and meet friends? Do they talk about activities with other people, or are they spending their days alone? Isolation can contribute to depression and heart problems in the elderly so it’s important to recognise when they are becoming lonely.
Have Their Pets and Plants Been Neglected?
If pets are not being fed or groomed and plants are not being watered, this can be a sign that they are struggling to look after themselves, let alone the other inhabitants of their home.
A Lack of Food and General Supplies
If you notice that a person’s kitchen cupboards are looking particularly bare, especially if this is alongside changes in weight and physical appearance, then this may be because that person is struggling to go outside for either physical or psychological reasons and perhaps both. Keep an eye out for common household items not getting replaced.
If you do know someone who needs help, it may be worth considering domiciliary assistance. Melrose Care can arrange for friendly, reliable experts to pop by and cook, carry out some light housework, do the shopping or deal with slightly more cumbersome tasks.
Signs That It May Be Time For An Elderly Person To Move Into Assisted Living
In many cases, help in the home is all someone needs to get themselves back on the right track and drastically improve their quality of life. However, in certain situations, it may be best to move them into assisted living in order to ensure all their needs are met.
Here are some examples of signs that it may be time to consider a change in living arrangements.
Difficulty in Performing Daily Tasks
These are also known as activities of daily living (or ADLs). Examples of ADLs include things such as bathing, dressing, transferring (in other words being able to move around without issue), toileting and eating. These are activities considered essential for personal care of oneself. If your loved one has issues with any of these activities, then the impact on their quality of life will be severe if they are left to live alone.
While appearance and personal hygiene in general is something to pay attention to, here we’re referring to someone appearing notably less healthy. This is particularly the case if they have a long term illness. This is not just an indication that they may struggle with their current living arrangement but also that, as time goes on, these issues are likely to escalate.
Losing Interest in Friends and Hobbies
If a person has been very sociable all their life and had a wide range of interests and that suddenly changes, then this can be a serious red flag for mental illnesses, such as depression. If you have reason to believe they are suffering from mental health issues, it is important to get them professional assistance as soon as possible.
A Small Social Circle
The previous point is particularly true if that person has very few people to turn to. They may feel isolated, which worsens their mental state, meaning they turn away from those remaining who wish to help them. In this instance, moving somewhere with other people can provide a constant stream of social interaction that can be hugely beneficial to a person’s mental health.
How Well Their Support Network Is Coping
If you and others who are helping care for an elderly person are finding that it is getting to a point where providing them with a good quality of life feels as though it is becoming hard or even impossible, then this is not a reflection on your ability or efforts. Rather, it is a sign that the situation has gotten to the point where it may be time to make a change in their living situation. If this is the case, assisted living can ensure they have everything they need to live a complete and happy life.
Melrose Care Home also provides assisted living services for elderly individuals who can no longer cope living independently. If you are interested in finding out more, simply call us on 01903 230406 or email firstname.lastname@example.org