As our parents and elderly relatives age and experience increased health problems or cognitive changes, completing daily living skills may become more difficult or even impossible. Loss of independence and trouble completing daily tasks can occur incrementally or suddenly. When parents become less able to care for themselves, a family member often takes on the responsibility of assessing whether or not additional help is needed for their parent to continue living independently.
Aging parents and their children are often in denial that there is a problem. Do not wait for a crisis in order to intervene. Below are a few early warning signs that can indicate that your elderly loved one needs help:
Change in Appearance:
- Poor hygiene
- Disheveled clothing
- Weight loss
- Bruises and injuries from falls or unexplained accidents
Change in Behavior:
- Loss of interest in activities
- Signs of confusion or increased isolation
- Increased anxiety
Neglecting the Home:
- Yard and home exterior need maintenance
- Interior of the home is neglected and cluttered
- Broken appliances
Signs of Confusion:
- Missing important appointments
- Difficulty performing once familiar tasks
- Piles of unopened mail, unpaid bills, and collection notices
If you believe a loved one is experiencing one or more of the above indicators, talk with them about their needs. Many organizations can help you start this conversation. Begin by reaching out to your component Employee Assistance Program for personalized referrals and support for you in your caregiving role.
For more information about elder care planning, or to locate resources in your area, contact the eldercare locator at eldercare.gov. The National Institutes of Health, National Institute on Aging, provide a number of resources for those who are new to the caregiving role.
Juggling your work and caregiving responsibilities can be challenging and stressful. It is important to remember to reach out for assistance and to take care of yourself. Contact your Employee Assistance Program or your local area agency on aging for resources and referrals for all of your eldercare concerns, including referrals to state-specific programs that can help you manage your elder care responsibilities.