As our elderly relatives get older, the likelihood is that they will start to need assistance with certain aspects of their lives. This can often be a gradual change, but it is important to look out for indications that they might need extra support, as these signs can sometimes suggest an underlying health problem, and, if missed, can lead to accidents, or mental and physical health problems down the line.
Furthermore, your relative is unlikely to ask for help – it is often difficult for older people to admit that they require a helping hand. Wouldn’t you feel the same after being self-sufficient for so long?
Here are seven tell-tale signs that could suggest your elderly relative might be needing some extra support:
Confusion and forgetfulness
Becoming a little forgetful is, unfortunately, part and parcel of getting older; however, if this forgetfulness starts to have an impact on your relative’s health and safety, then it’s time to act. Signs to look out for include becoming lost when in a familiar place, forgetting to take medication, leaving bills unpaid, or having frequent memory lapses. Forgetfulness could be an indicator of an underlying problem such as dementia, which, if left unmonitored, could result in them putting themselves in danger.
A decline in mobility
One of the common indicators that an elderly relative might be in need of some extra support is a decrease in physical ability. This could include difficulty getting up from a chair, struggling to get up and down stairs or finding it hard to do certain chores, such as cleaning. It might be a case of them needing a walker, stair lift or handle rails to help them move about the home, but if they are struggling to clean or dress themselves then more assistance will be required (see next point).
Personal hygiene issues
If you notice that your loved one is neglecting certain aspects of their personal health, such as not brushing their teeth, wearing dirty clothing or not bathing, this might be a sign of physical health problems or memory issues. Here at Unique Senior Care, we offer a personal care service, providing support with tasks like getting dressed, washing and medication reminders. We recognise that personal care is just that: it’s personal. That’s why our care packages are always tailored to meet the needs of the individual.
A cluttered home
If you notice a drastic change in the tidiness and cleanliness or your relative’s home, this could be a sign that they are becoming overwhelmed or are experiencing memory problems. It could also mean that the physical activity needed to keep on top of the housework has become too much, and is therefore no longer a priority. Keep an eye out for unopened mail, a build-up of laundry, an overgrown garden or an increase in general household clutter.
Loss in weight/appetite
A sudden change in weight could be a sign of malnutrition, dehydration or memory loss, i.e. forgetting to eat. Your loved one might also be having trouble cooking, preparing or shopping for food, or have gone-off – or a lack of – food in their fridge. Make sure your relatives are drinking enough water, especially during the summer months.
Please note that sudden weight changes can also be a sign of other underlying health problems, so it’s important to keep an eye on their weight over time.
Changes in personality
Mood swings, being defensive or displaying odd behaviours can be a sign of dementia or a mental health problem, such as depression. Loneliness is a big cause of depression or anxiety in later years: more than a million older people say they go for over a month without speaking to a friend, neighbour or family member. In addition, be aware of ‘sun-downing’: a change in personality in the evening that can be an indication of dementia.
If you have started to notice unexplained bruises, bumps or burns on your loved one, this might be a tell-tale sign that they are struggling to take care of themselves or carry out day-to-day tasks safely.
Getting extra support at home
Although it can be hard to see our elderly loved ones become less mobile and sharp-minded, don’t forget that this doesn’t mean they can’t still live a fulfilling life in their own home – they might just need a little extra help!
It is important to communicate with your relative about any concerns you may have, so you can decide together what steps to take next. Here at Unique Senior Care, we specialise in one-to-one at-home care, tailored to your relative’s unique needs. We offer the gift of independence by delivering care where our clients are most happy and comfortable: in their own homes.
Here are just a few of the services that might help with some of the issues outlined above:
- Personal Care – including help with bathing, grooming, dressing, eating, and bedtime routines.
- Home Help – support with light housekeeping, washing, meal preparation, making beds and more.
- Companionship – many of our clients are simply looking for company and friendship.
- For all of our services, click here.
If you are interested in arranging home help for a loved one, get in touch to discuss your needs further.