Because he had several medical problems, in the last years of his life Bob was unable to fend for himself. With the help of his family and home care services, he was able to stay in his own home.
His children oversaw his medications and doctor’s visits. They took him to the electronics store so he could buy the latest gadget, boiled him lobsters, and brought him Dilly Bars for dessert. The caregivers helped in a variety of ways, from keeping him safe in the shower to keeping him company. He especially looked forward to visits from a caregiver who often took him out to lunch. Bob loved dining out!
But this is not really a story about Bob. It’s about his wife, who also cared for him and was frequently emotionally and physically exhausted. Whenever their children or one of the home care providers arrived to help, she would often be waiting by the door with her car keys. For the next few hours, she would either drive aimlessly through nearby neighborhoods and towns or purposefully to garage sales and second-hand stores.
Bob was always a social man and it was fitting that when he passed away, he was encircled by his wife and children. The next several days and weeks were hectic and while the children noticed that their mother seemed somewhat confused and distant they attributed it to stress and grief.
A few months later, she became ill and needed to spend a few days in the hospital. The illness seemed to knock her off her feet and when she went home it became clear that she shouldn’t be left alone. The children who lived nearby took turns spending days and nights with their mother and slowly she became stronger.
During that time, they noticed some worrisome signs. She would forget whether she had eaten. They found notes scribbled on envelopes containing bills that hadn’t been paid. She would ask over and over for details about her husband’s death. Her daughter mentioned it to the doctor, who started the ball rolling on an evaluation. It turns out Bob’s wife had early Alzheimer’s Disease.
Once they understood the issue, they decided to use some of the same resources they had for their dad. But they were upset that they hadn’t picked up on some of the signs earlier. Some even felt guilty about it. They simply didn’t know. Would you know the signs that an elderly person you love might need help?
- Loss of balance, difficulty walking, falling
- Confusion about performing once familiar tasks
- Poor grooming or personal hygiene
- Change in physical appearance
- Change in eating habits
- Weight loss
- Memory loss
- Decreased energy, increased fatigue
- General confusion
- Depression or unusual lack of interest
- Decreased communication
- Change in sleep habits
- Bruises that might indicate falling
- Burns that might indicate difficulty operating the stove
- Difficulty concentrating
- Poor judgment
- Personality change
- Missed appointments
- Spoiled or outdated food in the refrigerator
- If still driving, recent accidents or near misses
- Dirty house, piled up laundry
- Missed or mishandled medications, unfilled prescriptions
- Yard no longer being maintained
- Pots and pans with noticeable burn marks
- Smell of urine in the house
- Gets lost easily
- Unopened mail, unpaid bills
- Collection or late notices
If you recognize any of these signs, we recommend a thorough medical evaluation. It’s possible that whatever is wrong is something that can be easily treated. Or it could mean your loved one needs assistance.
About Advantage Home Care
Advantage Home Care provides a wide variety of in-home senior services, including non-medical care. If you would like to learn more about our caregivers and the services we offer, please visit our website, send us an email or give us a call at 1-888-846-1410 or 207-699-2570.
We’d love to hear how you realized that your elderly loved one needed help at home and how you handled the situation. And please let us know if there is a particular topic you’d like us to write about. You can use the comment section at the bottom of the page. Thank you!
Our blog is written by Diane Atwood, who also writes the blog Catching Health with Diane Atwood.