Monmouth's Ask The Doctor Jan-Feb 2019


ADVICE FOR THE AGING COMMUNITY HEALTH SIGNS TO LOOK FOR WHEN YOUR AGING LOVED ONE IS LIVING INDEPENDENTLY By Sheli Monacchio Sometimes we don’t see our parents as much as we would like. Life gets in the way and our responsibilities pull us in many directions. We speak to mom or dad on the phone and they tell us everything is just fine. But is it? Take note of minor changes you may see while visiting your loved ones. Are they weary while navigating throughout their home or yours? Holding on to furniture and walls? Do they appear more confused with all of the family around and did they eat less than usual? Do they look like they are not physi- cally taking care of themselves the way they used to? It may be time to look into this a little deeper. Difficulties with Activities of Daily Living- (ADLs), such as bathing, changing clothes, housework, or even just getting around. Social Isolation- If your loved one stays at home with little social activity, or spends less time with friends that they used to see on a regular basis. Forgetfulness- Did your loved one forget to do the things they were used to doing daily or did they miss appointments?Remember that if your loved one is suffering from dementia, they cannot control their behavior. Provide a stimulating environment that will allow your loved one to remain safe. When the time comes that you can no longer care for your loved one on your own or if their symptoms become unmanageable, it may be time to reach out to a professional for help at home or take the next steps to find a community ap- propriate for your loved one. Loss of Appetite -Has your loved one been eating? If so, what have they been eating? If they can no longer cook for themselves and/or eat healthy foods, then it may be time to reach out to someone to help. Weight Loss/Looking Frail- This is a sign that their bones may not be as strong as they used to be, and if they fall then the situation could escalate very quick- ly. For instance, have your loved one hold a cup of coffee or tea. Do they have the strength to hold it or is the cup shaking? Neglected Environment- An unorganized, cluttered or messy home can be a sign that they can’t clean anymore, or it might be so cluttered that it can af- fect their own hygiene. Also look for: unopened bills and personal mail, a full voicemail box, an unmade bed, or expired food. If you see any signs listed above while visiting this holiday, it may be time to talk to your loved one about the next steps in their life to help keep them safe. Will they prefer to stay at home as they age, or is assisted living a better option for them? Caring Connections of New Jersey is a non-profit organization whose prima- ry mission is to educate seniors and their families on the options that are avail- able in their local community. Visit our website at www.caringconnectionsnj. org or call (609) 960-2265 for assistance.

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