When families live at a distance, the holidays can be the only time to assess how an aging parent or relative is doing. It is useful to use the time together to evaluate possible changes in health and safety. When visiting here are 6 areas of change to pay attention to:
Change in weight
Change in emotional state
Change in cognitive functioning
Change in energy level
Change in mobility and gait
Change in hygiene
Change in home environment
Indicators that there is a change in cognitive functioning can be found in the person or the environment.
Signs of changes in the person include:
Decline in retaining new information
Searching for familiar items such as wallet, keys, hearing aids
Challenges with planning
Withdrawal during social activities
Signs of changes in the environment include:
Is a parent or relative who has been very neat, organized and independent no longer so?
Is there clutter in their living space?
Are items laying around or misplaced?
Is there spoiled food in the refrigerator?
Burnt pots & pans?
Significant items out of order or in need of repair?
Check prescription bottles- count the # of pills and the correspondence to the refill date?
Are there unpaid bills?
If your parent or relative is driving, check the vehicle both inside and out. Is there a change in the condition? Go for a ride as a passenger to assess their driving skills as a safe and competent driver.
Once information has been gathered, the next step is communicating your concerns to your parent or relative. It is important to be available for their input and together discuss ideas to improve the situation. The appropriate time and place for the conversation and conveying your concerns in a non- threatening manner are critical to a successful outcome.
Vivian Green Korner, MA, Certified Dementia Practitioner, is a dementia care specialist in private practice. She works with families who need guidance, direction and help with decisions that they need to make when caring for an individual with dementia. Vivian’s goal is to support families with practical advice, solutions to deal with the many challenges and help families to find the best match to programs, services and professionals.
Viviangreenkorner.com | 201.960.4277