It seems like we are always looking for the magic key that will grant us wisdom in a certain area and home care is no different. It could be “Five Tips for Weight Loss” where if we read the tips and agree (I didn’t say do them only agree) then tomorrow the scale will show that our weight is headed down. I like bullet-point lists too so here are three tell-tale signs that your aging parent might have some health issues.
If you are a family caregiver and your aging parent is living with you or you see them every day then these changes might be hard to identify because they are gradual. However if you see then only occasionally then any change will be more dramatic and you might want to get assistance from a home care agency.
Are your aging parents moody? Everyone is capable of being in a bad mood now and then but it could also be a sign of depression, especially if it is ongoing. You might keep track of their activities. Are they still maintaining their social network of friends? Are they still showing interest in their hobbies? Any withdrawal from other human contact should be noted.
How is their mobility and their balance? Can they still get around the grocery store the way that they used to? Are they holding onto furniture as they walk through the house? Aging will take its toll on muscle strength and endurance so start mentioning a walker early on. We have a client who bounces off the walls walking down her hallway but mention a walker and you will have a fight on your hands. Using a walker is one of those milestones, like not driving anymore, that folks just don’t want to cross. Sometimes if you explain to them that if they fell more then likely something would break and that could mean a protracted hospital stay.
Can they take care of themselves? In the medical world this is called Activities of Daily Living or ADL. Areas of personal hygiene like bathing, hair washing and tooth brushing if ignored could be early signs of dementia. If they experience weight loss then they could be having difficulty cooking or maybe their eye sight has changed so they cannot read label directions or see the panel on the microwave.
These issues and many more should be brought to the attention of your parent’s primary physician, there might be some tweaking of the meds needed or maybe an eye exam. Above all be loving, compassionate and understanding when with your aging parent. But also be observant as to how they are doing and be a detective always looking for clues that might indicate future medical problems.