Do You See What I See?
December 14, 2018

Family LawHave you looked at your family members with open eyes to see what has changed in the past year?  Holidays are a great opportunity to evaluate aging family members.  Often we don’t get to see our parents, grandparents, aunts, and uncles in person throughout the year.  When we sit down with them for in-person visits it can be shocking how much the aging process has impacted them.  When we see the person frequently, we may not “see” the warning signs of potential areas of concern.  As you visit with family, ask yourself some of the following questions:

  1. Are they well-groomed with clean clothing? Issues with bathing, clothes washing and other personal areas of hygiene are a sign that the person may need more daily assistance than they presently have.
  2. When they walk around are they “furniture walking”? Using couches, chairs, walls, etc. to walk from room to room is a strong sign that the person may have balance issues or a fear of falling.
  3. Do they seem engaged with current events? Being engaged in current activities both worldwide and in the family is important.  When people start to disengage it can be a sign of hearing loss or more significantly, mental decline.
  4. How are they handling their medications? Medication confusion can result in serious consequences, including death.  When someone gets confused they may take the wrong medication or fail to take a required medication.  Many pharmacies offer systems to help keep medications organized.  If someone is not taking their medications it also is a sign that they are having financial difficulties.
  5. Do they look like they are taking care of the necessities?
  6. Is their weight stable? Weight loss can be a sign that they are not eating regular meals or have an unaddressed medical issue.  It can mean they need assistance with shopping, meal preparation or a myriad of issues.
  7. Are they having any issues with hearing or the ability to communicate? Hearing loss is common and leads to isolation.
  8. Are they managing their financial affairs? This is harder to evaluate in a short visit but often small comments can be red flags.
  9. Has someone new entered into their life that they are relying on? Unfortunately, there are people who seek out elderly persons and manipulate them financially and even cause physical abuse.  Watch for unusual relationships.

Of course, you don’t want to spend your entire holiday visit doing a formal valuation of family members.  But it offers us a great opportunity to see a family with open eyes to the fact that our assistance or the assistance of more formal caregivers may be needed!

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