You visit your mom and/or dad and you feel like something is off; you are noticing things that weren’t there before and your gut is telling you something isn’t right. How do you know when changes in mood, behavior or wellness should be of concern?

The following are signs that may indicate your mom or dad may be ready for a change or need assistance:

  • Inadequate meals, poor nutrition, or spoiled food or groceries past their expiration date.
  • Weight loss, or decreased energy or physical fitness.
  • Abnormally untidy house and clutter.
  • Poor hygiene, soiled clothing and unkempt personal appearance.
  • Unopened mail and past-due bills.
  • Forgetting to take medication, taking the wrong doses, stockpiling medications with the possibility of mixing medicines by mistake with adverse results, or expired medications.
  • Frequent memory lapses, confusion or forgetfulness, such as missing medical appointments.
  • Increasingly unorganized or unable to problem solve.
  • Lack of interest in activities, hobbies or things that were formerly enjoyed.
  • Changes in mood.
  • Frequent falls.
  • Unsafe driving.

If the points above are raising questions or concerns, they may signal that changes are needed, such as implementing additional help in the home or considering a move to a senior living community.

Assistance at home, through an in-home care service provider, helps seniors stay as independent as possible in the familiarity of their own surroundings. Independent and assisted living provides their own apartment home for people who want to live independently yet they are among the company of others and there are some supportive services if needed. As the number of elderly adults has increased, so has the variety of living choices available to seniors.

When is it the right time to determine the need?

Data has shown the risks associated with isolation and falls for seniors:

Brigham Young University in Provo, Utah meta data studies revealed that loneliness and social isolation may increase the risk of premature death by up to 50%. 

Falls account for the largest percentage of deaths from unintentional injuries among older adults and the rate of occurrence is on the rise according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. 

Aging parents, family members and a personal physician can work together as a team to determine normal aging versus a concerning decline or illness, and implement assistance as needed.

Selected services to help with the activities of daily living, meal services, medication assistance, health and wellness, and socialization, for example, can make the difference in your mom or dad returning to a safe and satisfying lifestyle while reducing the worries of family members.

Talk with your aging parents about the options available and the type of living environment that may be best for them. You have a golden opportunity to make their transition, when needed, a positive experience by including your parents in discussions and helping them understand the choices available while listening to any concerns.

Don’t wait until you have to make a decision due to crisis. Too often, families wait to have such discussions until after a parent has had an unexpected medical or health issue, such as a fall or accident, and is no longer able to take care of themselves. The urgency at this time can cause increased stress and uncertainty when the clock is ticking and significant decisions have to be made quickly.

Considering a major life change, such as moving a parent from their home to a senior living community, is an important decision. Individual preferences can vary, so taking time to do the research, asking good questions and understanding all of the options available can help make the process easier. Contacting your local senior care provider is a great place to start in determining the best choice for you, your parents and your family. Here’s to a happy new year for you and your loved ones.

Kay Grobel is the director of sales and marketing for Benedictine Living Community of Shakopee, a senior living community opening in the summer of 2020. 

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