Signs that a senior’s living and daily support arrangements may need attention or change can range from subtle -- to being very clear and obvious. Whether from the senior themselves, or close family members involved in the daily care and support of their loved one, knowing which behaviors and signs of increased support need is important in order to maintain a high quality of life and overall happiness.
As we age, completing daily activities such as bathing and getting dressed becomes more difficult and may be skipped or not done well. If a notable change in appearance and hygiene is observed, this should be discussed with the senior. Missing appointments, missing monthly household bills due dates, and allowing dirt and clutter to collect in the senior’s living areas are also warning signs, and may indicate increased support or a permanent change is needed. If left unattended for long, these and other daily living activity gaps can cause stress, illness, injury and overall a growing sense of poor self esteem.
Waning motivation to grocery shop or continue to cook for themselves is an indication that additional daily care is necessary. In extreme cases the senior may overlook or avoid eating at all, resulting in noticeable and sustained weight loss. Obviously, this lack of nutrition carries certain and serious health consequences if not addressed quickly. Unexpected or sudden weight gain is also a troubling sign, and one that should be looked into. It’s possible the senior is foregoing proper nutrition and meal preparation for the convenience of less healthy fast food, snack foods, or other pre-prepared or delivered meals.
Overlooking or avoiding taking required daily medications is not only an immediate and potentially very dangerous health issue – but a sign that increased daily assistance is needed. The same goes for missing routine doctor appointments. Also, if there’s been a recent medical emergency such as a slip or fall, and the senior was unable to find and get timely emergency assistance on their own, this needs to be addressed.
Some seniors may isolate themselves after a loss of a spouse or other close companion. While in some ways this is natural and to be expected for a period of time, prolonged isolation and acute changes in social behavior and engagement are definite indications that support is needed. A few examples include cutting out or drawing back from club memberships, hobbies, and activities that brought enjoyment and happiness. Please also keep in mind that many of these signs could indicate the onset of depression or early-stage dementia – conditions which require a high level of specialized medical diagnosis and action.
Assisted Living as a Solution
As we age, our personal daily support needs increase, as does the importance of remaining socially engaged. While family and other loved ones play an important role in providing this type of support to their senior loved ones, providing the amount of time and degree of attention required to maintain a senior’s physical and psychological quality of life may exceed their ability meet these needs.
Moving to an assisted living community is among the options available to seniors to meet these growing personal health related and social needs, while maintaining a palpable sense of independence.