We often work with families whose senior loved one has been whisked away to assisted living or nursing care, seemingly overnight. Frequently, this change has occurred following an illness or injury resulting in that person no longer being able to live alone. Sometimes, family visits from out of town for various holidays and realizes that while in phone conversations their elders have said they are doing “just fine,” things are not quite so fine.
While some things happen without warning (such as accidents), there are indicators that a change is needed before it is too late. During this health crisis that is impacting our older population in particular, I feel that it is doubly important to share the following information. See below for just a few of the plethora of existing references available.
According to experts at AgingCare*, it is necessary to look at how all aspects of a senior’s current housing situation affects his or her safety and quality of life. With their emotional attachment, it is difficult for family to objectively evaluate these. Instead, geriatric care managers and aging life care professionals should perform functional assessments that identify impairments in activities of daily living (ADLs) (basic self care)** and instrumental activities of daily living (IADLs) (more complex thinking and organizational skills).** They also assess home safety. Below are some things they consider.
Medication Management – Does your senior remember to take medications at prescribed times and dosages? Have they been hospitalized or had ill effects from missed or multiple doses?
Meal Preparation and Choices – Can they cook healthy and balanced meals for themselves? Can they manage appliances safely? Have they forgotten to remove a meal from the oven or stove, resulting in a burned pot or fire? Are there expired foods in the refrigerator or cabinets? Do they appear healthy or are they losing/gaining weight?
Safety and Mobility – Can they safely negotiate steps and maneuver around at home? Is their home equipped with safety devices? What is their fall history? Can they summon help when required? Do they drive safely – any accidents? Is there an alternative means of transportation available?
Personal Hygiene – Is your senior bathing frequently enough? Wearing clean clothing, well groomed and keeping up with laundry, including linens? Or, is he or she unkempt, wearing soiled clothing?
Pet Care – Are they taking proper care of their pets, feeding them appropriately, cleaning up after them, walking dogs?
Living Conditions – is the home clean or in disarray? Are there stains on carpets and furniture, odors from spoiled food, items sitting out that should have been refrigerated? Are things very abnormal?
Financial Management – Are bills paid on time? Are there piles of unopened mail, late notices or checks lying around? Can you tell if there has been excessive spending, especially to charities that keep requesting money?
Confusion – Does your senior seem confused when performing everyday tasks? Do they not know what day of the week it is or when things may have occurred? Have they missed important appointments? Repeat themselves?
When you realize that help is needed, there are advisors who can work with families to help navigate the world of senior living. So once it is determined that a change is needed, see our post, “Navigating the World of Senior Living Options.”