Source: TapInto.net New Jersey
‘Tis the season to gather with a limited number of friends and family. It is also the perfect opportunity to check in with elder family members or neighbors, many of whom have been socially isolated and stuck at home since March. According to Samara Elias of the Parker Adult Day Center in the New Brunswick area, these should be watched for as signs of decline in physical, mental, or cognitive health:
Inability to maintain physical appearances. A stain on grandma’s favorite holiday sweater could be “an indicator that they’re no longer able to maintain their physical appearance,” Elias says. “They may be struggling to do the laundry or maintain good personal hygiene.”
Weight loss/gain. Elders can have a well-stocked refrigerator and pantry, but they might not remember to regularly eat their meals. Or they may not recall eating and prepare another meal.
Changes in mood or behavior. These changes can be triggered by something as common as a change in the weather or someone experiencing pain or discomfort. But it could also indicate declining mental health. “Look for an unpleasant change in their mood. If you notice that your loved one is depressed it may be time to speak with their doctor.”
Unpaid bills. If last September’s credit card bill is sitting under a stack of mail or if the electric bill was mailed to the cable company, they could be warning signs that someone is struggling with executive functioning. “It’s an early indication that they’re having a harder time managing everything.”
Messy house. If it’s uncharacteristically disorganized with clothes strewn on the bedroom floor or dirty dishes left on the table or outdated food in the refrigerator, those are signs of concern. Similarly, if your loved one’s vehicle has started scrapes, scratches and dents, it may be time to take the keys. “If they are struggling to drive safely, it may indicate that other skills are deteriorating.”
Inability to manage medications. It is important to double check that your family member is taking prescribed medications properly. Not taking medication, or taking it incorrectly, can expedite the deterioration of the body and mind, which is why regular checks in the medicine cabinet are warranted.
Inability to follow conversations. “Are they having a harder time following the dinner conversation? Is this somebody who always used to be super involved and engaged in conversation and maybe they’re taking a little bit more of a backseat? Are they asking repetitive questions and can’t seem to follow the string of the conversation or hold on to information from the beginning to the end?
If you spot any of these warning signs, you should consider consulting with a physician,” Elias says.