If you’re traveling over the holidays, you may see family members for the first time in months. If you visit an elderly or disabled family member, keep an eye out for signs of declining health.
A recent Philadelphia Inquirer article provided suggestions on what changes to look for to better judge a loved one’s health:
- Is life moving forward or slowing to a halt? How active is your loved one?
- Can the person keep up during a conversation? Any memory lapses or disconnected statements?
- Is the house well kept? Any uncashed checks or unpaid bills lying around?
- Is getting out of a chair a struggle? Does it look like the person is having difficulty with balance? If so, falls are a risk and serious injuries can result.
- Look for bruising. It could be a sign of falls or if the person is in a nursing home, possibly a sign of abuse or neglect. Bruising easily is a side effect of using blood thinners which can be made worse by pain medication.
- Many elderly don’t drink enough fluids so they become dehydrated. Do they have dry skin, lips or mouth?
- Play a game. See how many animals they can name in a minute. If they can provide at least 15, they’re in good shape. If only 12, there could be mild impairment; moderate impairment if nine’ less than that can indicate a severe problem. If they’re reluctant to participate, it may be a sign of limitations that they don’t want to admit to.
If your family member is having trouble, it may be time for conversations with the person and other family members about changes that may be needed (including estate planning or a guardianship) to keep the person safe and healthy for as long as possible.
If we can help you and your family keep your loved ones safe, reach out to us today. Otherwise, enjoy a very Happy Thanksgiving.