It can be difficult to notice changes in a loved one’s physical and mental capabilities and even more difficult to realize if these changes are part of the natural aging process or a problem that needs to be addressed. The following are warning signs to help determine whether an elderly family member may need assistance at home or at a skilled nursing facility:
- Changed eating habits that cause a change in weight or appetite, more specifically, a loss of appetite.
- Neglected personal hygiene. This includes a variety of issues such as wearing dirty clothes, body odor and neglected hair, nails and skin. Overall just a decrease in hygiene and effort in appearance.
- Neglected home care. A change in the usual standard of cleanliness at home such as not washing dishes or dusting.
- Inappropriate behavior such as being unusually loud or quiet, paranoid, agitated or making phone calls at odd hours.
- Changed relationship patterns such as abandoning old friendships. This may have caused friends and neighbors to express concern.
- Physical problems such as burns or scratches. These could have resulted from physical weakness, clumsiness or a misuse of medication.
- Decreased or stopped participating in activities they once enjoyed. They may have stopped attending church, book club meetings or senior center functions.
- Exhibiting forgetfulness. This may have resulted in piles of unopened mail, missed appointments and not refilling prescriptions.
- Mishandling finances such as not paying bills, hiding money or losing money.
- Making unusual purchases such as more than one subscription to a magazine, entering a large number of contests or purchasing an increased number of products seen on television advertisements.
Noticing one or more of these changes may result in the need to take action. Sitting down and talking to your loved ones physician is the best place to start in creating a plan of action. If the doctor recommends professional help with care, a qualified elder law attorney should be consulted.