Sometimes, when those closest to us change it can be the hardest for us to see. Maybe it’s because we’re too close and the change is too gradual, or maybe it’s because it’s hard for us to believe that our elderly loved ones who we’ve always looked up to will someday need our help in return. As children, family, and friends of a senior loved one, it is our role to watch for the warning signs that might suggest a change in health condition. Take note of the following signs, and share them with other loved ones who are close, so you can be extra vigilant in ensuring you give the best care to your senior:
- Change or loss in appetite: Refusing to eat is a common sign of a health problem. Eating unusually – such as at odd times, or foods they have never enjoyed before – is also a sign of cognitive issues.
- Weight loss: Often connected to a decrease in appetite, weight loss is one of the most obvious signals of health changes.
- Moodiness or change in temperament: Sudden outbursts and changes in mood that were previously uncommon can point to stress that a senior is feeling as their health begins to decline.
- Anti-social behaviour: Traditionally independent seniors can often behave anti-social if they feel their health is declining. A large part of that may be unwillingness to allow their family to see them in state they perceive as less strong than they are accustomed to.
- Decline in housekeeping: If you visit a senior loved one’s house and there is a pileup of mail, dishes, lack of grocery shopping done, etc., it may be that they are struggling to cope with their daily routine activities.
- Changes in personal appearance/grooming: Overgrown fingernails, shirts not ironed, decline in attire, etc., are also obvious warning signs that your senior loved one is struggling to cope.
If you feel that some or a few of these warning signs have popped up, remember to approach your loved one with sincerity and warmth. This confrontation can be very difficult for a senior to accept, as it will feel like an attack on their independence. Remember to speak to them like an adult, and show that you are here to help.