As the holidays are approaching and you are visiting your parents or grandparents, keep a keen eye out for some warning signs that might indicate that more help is needed to keep them safe and independent.

That help could be in the form of a home health agency assisting with some general household chores, cooking or medicine management .  Or there is additional help, up to and including great senior living communities.    If you suspect they are suffering from a dementia related illness, getting them moved to a safe, interactive assisted living community may be the best choice.

Some of the things to look for when visiting are:

1.         House unkept and/or in disarray.   Not necessarily unclean, but are items in places that don’t make sense.  Falling behind on maintenance items.

2.         Medicine bottles and location.  Are their medicines in a central location or scattered, do the dates on the bottles correlate with the quantity and how they are prescribed?  Are they clear on when each is supposed to be taken?

3. Pantries and Refrigerators.  Are they stocked or overstocked?  Is the food out-of-date or spoiled?  Nutrition is key to an older adult’s health especially with the cold and flu season approaching.  Overstocking may be a sign that they are forgetting they have items or hoarding, either of which could indicate some stress or mild cognitive impairment.

4.         Trash.  Goes hand-in-hand with #3, because if their cabinets are under stocked and they are saying they are getting pre-made meals; are there containers or remnants that support that?

5. Activities.  Are they still engaged with their church, friends, and/or exercise?  If not, they might be afraid of venturing far from home for a number of reasons:  not comfortable driving, have cognitive issues they don’t want people to recognize, depression, etc.  Self-isolation is a sign that help is needed.

These are just a few things, but could be an indication that alternatives to living at home alone need to be discussed.   As a loved one you cannot turn a blind eye, because if you wait until you’re “sure”, the luxury of being proactive will be lost.   Identifying and discussing these concerns with experience advocates, help seniors maintain their health, safety, and dignified independence.

Transitions For Senior Living is a FREE service helping seniors and their families find appropriate care and service when a loved one is struggling to live independently without any assistance.