Many of us do not get to see our aging loved ones as much as we would like. We talk to them on the phone a few times a week and check in with their doctors, but often times it is just long weekends and holidays that we pack up the kids and head up to grandma's house. If you are hitting the roads this 4th of July, make sure to keep an eye out for a few signs that mom and dad's health may be declining.
Weight Loss: Weight loss can be a sign of trouble and a reason to ask questions. This is one of the easiest signs to spot and one of the most obvious signs of declining health. It could be as simple as reevaluating their diet and helping them come up with a more creative and appetizing meal plan, or their inability to read the directions on fine-print food labels. However, it could also be a warning for cancer, dementia, heart failure, or dementia. If this is something you are concerned about, talk to your loved one and then to their physician.
Balance: Watch how your loved one is walking and the way they move around. If they are hesitant to walk or moving seems to cause them pain or discomfort, it could be a sign of joint or muscle problems. Do you think they are a fall-risk? Assess the situation and follow-up with their physician.
Emotional Well-Being: It is easy to be chipper on the phone and to make it sound like everything is going well, even if you talk daily. If you are spending a few days with mom, see how she's really doing. Looks for signs of depression, her level of social activity, sleep patterns, interest in hobbies, and personal hygiene. If you feel any of these have declined or changed, take note and contact their physician.
Home Environment: Is mom's house still as orderly as your remember? Are the bills paid and newspapers in a neat stack in the corner? We are looking for signs of change that could signal a problem. Cleanliness is obvious, but what about scorched cookware? It could be a sign that mom forgot she put the noodles on the stove. Is the laundry piling up? Did she forget about it or doesn't she no longer have the strength to lift the basket? Pay attention and contact her physician if you have concerns.
We hope that your time with your loved ones this holiday weekend is quality time with lifelong memories being made. But we do ask that you pay attention to the signs mentioned above and contact their physician if you have concerns. If you are at their home, take a few minutes and clean out expired medications from their cabinet and expired food from their fridge - those little labels are hard to read.