Senior Series- Warning Signs That Independent Living is no Longer Safe

Watching your mom & dad age can be difficult. The realization that living independently may no longer be a choice for them can be heartbreaking for all involved.  What are some warning signs that they may need assistance?

 

  1. Bruising

       Your parent may not be telling they are experiencing more falls, but their  skin may show signs of it.  Older skin bruises more easily and may show signs that they are bumping into things, becoming increasingly unsteady or falling.

  1. Food Crisis

Is there outdated food in the fridge or on the pantry shelf?  Or is there not enough food on the shelves to sustain life? The elder person may not be able to shop or cook or clean like they once did.

  1. Unpaid bills

Are you noticing stacks of mail where there was once complete organization? Your parents may not be able to tend to paperwork and bills due to a multitude of reasons- poor vision, declining memory or depression.

  1. Odor

Is your parent having difficulty with hygiene or a health issue that is causing an odor?  Remember that decrease in the ability to smell is part of the aging process.  Or is it that they are unable to keep up with cleaning of their home?

  1. Overall Messiness in Home

Are you noticing more piles?  Piles of magazines, clothes, undone laundry?  Maybe your parent is having more difficulty moving around and therefore regular household chores become difficult.  

 

What should you do if you are noticing these signs?  

  1. Have someone other than you assess the situation.  A medical check up may be necessary.  A physician can do both a physical and mental examination.  Don’t forget to have eyes and ears checked as well.  
  2. In Wisconsin every county has an Aging and Disability Resource Center-ADRC.  They are a wealth of information.  They can do a general assessment of the senior and their needs and then make recommendations for services.  Keep in mind not all services come with a cost.
  3. Let your parent know that you don’t want to intrude but you are genuinely concerned for their health and safety and want to help them fInd solutions that help them stay in their home longer and remain safe.  
  4. Start the discussion EARLY of what the future may look like. Discuss what their wishes are when it is necessary for them to move into a different living situation.  

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