If you’re taking care of an aging loved one, either in person or from afar, it can be difficult to know exactly what his or her needs are on any given day. Here, we’ll look at a few common daily activities and offer information on ways to determine if help is needed.
Cooking & Cleaning
It’s not uncommon for a senior to let certain chores, such as cleaning the windows, pile up. However, when everyday household responsibilities become day-to-day impossibilities, your loved one puts his or herself at risk of accidents, injuries, or serious health problems. Signs your loved one is having trouble include old food remaining in the refrigerator, dishes going unwashed, and trash sitting inside the home.
A weekly maid service may prolong their ability to remain at home, but it’s not a long-term solution. Mobility and cognitive disorders are difficult to overcome with age, and once walking or memory become an issue, live-in care is usually not far behind.
Personal hygiene becomes an issue for many senior citizens. Everything from a decreased sense of smell to depression can trigger poor personal hygiene practices. Failure to maintain cleanliness can affect a senior’s self-esteem and, as is the case with poor dental hygiene, may even leave them more susceptible to infections and other illnesses.
If your parent, grandparent, or other aging family member wishes to stay in their own home but has trouble or is uncomfortable bathing, you can hire a personal home health aide to assist with this intimate task. Likewise, a walk-in shower with non-slip flooring and built-in seating may make your senior more comfortable in the bathroom.
Nutritional intake is also something you must monitor as your senior’s abilities deteriorate. Many seniors suffer from complications that result in weight loss, which is not a normal part of aging. It may be due to something as simple as ill-fitting dentures, but not eating can also indicate serious physical or mental health issues. Seniors who suddenly stop eating healthy and nutritious meals are at a greater risk of dying within six months.
You can ensure your loved one maintains their nutrition by stocking the refrigerator with easy-to-prepare, nutritionally-balanced meals. You may also consider partnering with Meals On Wheels or hiring a personal chef to prepare meals a few times a week. Ensure or other shake-like supplements can also help by adding calories and vitamins to his or her diet.
Getting dressed each morning and undressed each night presents unique challenges to seniors. Arthritis, illness, mental health issues, and trouble lifting their arms and fastening buttons are all obstacles that healthy adults don’t consider. Your senior may be having difficulty in this area if he or she regularly sleeps in the clothes they wore during the day or doesn’t change clothing for days at a time.
There are many dressing aids that can help for a while if fine motor skills are the problem. However, pay careful attention to your loved one’s sense of style as dementia may be setting in and that means you’ll need to provide more hands-on care in the immediate future.
If your senior loved one has chosen to remain in their own home, you can still lookout for their needs. There are a number of services available that can help make your job easier. These include everything from meal delivery to skilled nursing care providers. There are also in-home caregivers who provide non-medical care to make activities of daily living easier such as assistance with bathing, dressing, cooking, cleaning, laundry, and errands.
The end goal is to ensure your loved one is healthy, happy, and cared for no matter where they decide to live in their final chapter of life. Pay attention to these issues and get help where it’s needed; your loved one will appreciate your efforts and you will sleep better knowing he or she isn’t suffering from a lack of basic necessities.
At Caring Senior Service, our expert staff is comprised of extremely knowledgeable, friendly, and trusted professionals who take pride in helping your loved one manage their daily activities. Check out our Caregiver Toolkit for more resources on how to keep up with a senior's changing needs. You can access all of our free resources by first finding the Caring team near you.