Growing older is not always easy. Aging can present many challenges and sometimes it can be hard to figure out when to seek help or make life changes in order to ensure that your loved ones are protected. Here are 9 warning signs to look for as your loved ones grow older: Changed eating habits. Many times this can result in weight loss, appetite loss, or even forgetting to eat regular meals. This can be attributed to depression, cancer, or dementia. Neglected personal hygiene. When you visit are they wearing dirty clothes? Do they have body odor, bad breath, neglected nails and teeth, or sores on the skin? Causes of poor personal hygiene practices can range from dementia to depression. Neglected home clean-up or repairs. A noticeable change in cleanliness and sanitation can be a sign of depression, dementia or other neurological problems. If you see stacks of bills or newspapers around the house, these also pose a threat to their safety, as often times these piles are easy to trip over and can result in dangerous falls. Exhibits inappropriate behavior. This can involve being unusually loud, quiet, paranoid, or agitated. Changed relationship pattern. Have friends or neighbors expressed concern for your loved one? Have they stopped participating in hobbies or activities they used to enjoy? Increased accidents. When you spend time with them do you notice burns or other signs of physical injury? It’s possible that these accidents result from general weakness, or forgetfulness but be alert for misuse of alcohol or prescription medications. Exhibits forgetfulness. There are many physical signs of forgetfulness which ranges from unopened mail, piling of newspapers, not filling prescriptions, or missing appointments. Mishandled finances. Have you noticed stacks of unpaid bills, unusual purchases ( such as buying more than one subscription to the same magazine), or increased purchases from TV offers? This could be due in part to forgetfulness, but can also be linked to deeper physical or mental issues. Days spent without leaving the house. This can happen if your loved one is no longer capable of driving or has developed anxiety about leaving the house.
If you feel as though any of the above warning signs are being exhibited by your loved one, then it could be time to consider some alternative care solutions. If they live alone, the first step can be purchasing a medical alert device for them, which would provide support if they fall, experience a stroke or heart attack, or have another accident in the house. If you have the means, you might also want to consider having some in-home help at least several days a week to make sure that your loved one is taking care of themselves--eating regularly, bathing regularly, and paying bills on time. Of course, we always think it’s a good idea to consult a doctor when you think there may be something wrong. Together with your doctor, you can figure out the best plan for your loved one to continue living a safe and healthy life.