It can be tricky assessing whether our aging parents truly need help or if observed behavioral changes are simply part of a temporary circumstance. Delicate care should be taken to objectively analyze a situation before saying something that may cause a loved one to react defensively.
Kenny Higdon of 5 Star Home Care said grown children can look for red flags when visiting with their parents. These include obvious weight loss or gain, prescriptions barely touched, damage to the car, increased frailty, strange body odor, unopened mail, letters from creditors, piles of clutter, cobwebs, perishables past their expiration dates, or signs of being preoccupied while driving. Dead or dying plants and animals that seem underfed or poorly groomed are also indicators that an aging loved one is not managing very well.
While these behaviors may be worrisome clues of trouble, the good news is that being aware and reacting to them puts family in a proactive position to make sure the senior gets additional help he or she may need.
1. Safety Check
Higdon, who started the Tennessee-based 5 Star Home Care after his own family struggled to find a trustworthy caregiver for his grandmother, said the first step in reacting should be identifying specific areas of concern, such as potentially dangerous medication interactions or hazards increasing the chance of falls. These situations can be addressed with a minimal of fuss and a little effort.
"If you suspect a loved one is beginning to suffer from dementia, it's important to educate yourself so you can recognize the symptoms rather than guessing," he said. "Do the symptoms interfere with the ability to conduct everyday life? Be aware if something's 'just not right' or other family members point out mistakes or express concern. If the senior has difficulty working their way through choices that have been quick decisions in the past, that's a red flag."
3. Get a Medical Evaluation
A trip to the doctor or neurologist for a thorough checkup can rule out other things that can cause memory loss. Chronic stress, depression, sleep deprivation, reactions to medications, a malfunctioning thyroid, excessive drinking, concussions, or menopause are all possible causes for someone to demonstrate forgetfulness that is not necessarily dementia. Alzheimer's disease usually develops slowly rather than coming on suddenly.
4. Arrange for a Caregiver
The affected senior may resist discussions about how to adapt because it's scary to feel as if he or she will lose their independence and become overwhelmed with changes. A family caregiver may also feel overwhelmed or resentful if other family members do not share the load.
The presence of a qualified professional caregiver in the home like the ones screened and hired by 5 Star Home Care can help seniors with mobility issues, as well as those of all ages who are living with a disability or recovering from an injury or illness. 5 Star's professional caregivers perform such day-to-day activities as bathing, dressing, doing laundry, light housekeeping, meal preparation, and transportation.
By following these four steps, families can alleviate worries and get loved ones the care they need to remain in the home with a minimal amount of disruption to their routine.
About 5 Star Home Care
Higdon started 5 Star Home Care in 2007 after his own mother took on the responsibility to care for his grandmother. 5 Star carefully screens caregivers before hiring them and connects them with clients across Tennessee. For families who are concerned about the health and safety of their loved one, reach out to 5 Star Home Care.
Realizing how precious our seniors are, 5 Star employs the most qualified caregivers who are hired only after undergoing careful background checks and drug screens. The company's procedures are tailored to work towards constant monitoring, care management and never placing the senior at risk of being left without care.
5 Star Home Care is headquartered in Chattanooga and serves clients throughout Tennessee.
Home care services exist to provide the basic services that facilities do – light housekeeping, meal preparation and social activities – without removing the senior from the familiarity of home. It is a cost efficient alternative to an assisted living facility that preserves the aging loved one's sense of freedom and comfort.
If you are struggling with how to best care for an aging or disabled relative, call or visit www.5starHomeCare.com. In Chattanooga, call 423-893-8181. In middle Tennessee, call 931-474-7823.
"If you suspect a loved one is beginning to suffer from dementia, it's important to educate yourself so you can recognize the symptoms rather than guessing." Kenny Higdon
FOR MORE INFORMATION
Call or visit www.5starHomeCare.com. In Chattanooga, call 423-893-8181. In middle Tennessee, call 931-474-7823.