Visiting your family soon? Be sure to make a mental note of these tell-tale signs that your loved ones may need long-term care or a long distance caregiving plan.
Being a long distance caregiver is challenging. If you live far away from your relative and don’t get a chance to visit often, being on the lookout for red flags will give you an opportunity to anticipate issues and act proactively in the future.
First, consider these factors:
- Does your loved one require help with chores or housekeeping, personal care, shopping and meal preparation, money management, transportation, medical checkups, or medications?
- Are they isolated or do they live with others?
- If living with another, are they dependent on that person for care?
- Is the person an appropriate caregiver?
Aside from these questions, look out for these 10 warning signs. If your elderly relative displays any of these behavior then it may be necessary to take action.
- Changing eating habits, resulting in weight loss, appetite loss, or missed meals
- Neglecting personal hygiene, including clothing, body odor, oral health, nails, and skin
- Neglecting the home, with a noticeable change in tidiness and/or sanitation
- Exhibiting inappropriate behavior, such as being unusually loud, quiet, paranoid, or agitated, or making phone calls at unusual hours
- Changing relationship patterns, causing friends and neighbors to express concern
- Showing physical injuries, such as burns, which may have resulted from general weakness, forgetfulness, or misuse of alcohol or medication
- Decreasing or stopping participation in activities that were once enjoyable, such as a bridge or book club, dining with friends, or attending religious services
- Exhibiting forgetfulness, resulting in unopened mail, newspaper piles, unfilled prescriptions, or missed appointments
- Mishandling finances, such as not paying bills or paying them more than once and losing or hiding money
- Making unusual purchases, such as more than one subscription to the same magazine, entering an unusually large number of contests, or increasing purchases from television advertisements
Additionally, keep an eye out for warning signs of self-neglect or abuse during your visit. If, before you make your trip, you suspect that your loved one needs extra assistance, plan a longer stay so that you can visit local aging services organizations during regular work hours. Make sure that you have enough time during your visit to accomplish necessary tasks.
Remember that changes in physical and cognitive abilities that may occur with age can be difficult to detect—for older adults and their family members, friends, and caregivers.
If you do notice any of the behaviors listed above, inform the older adult’s physician of these changes or contact an elder advocate.
My Elder provides elder advocacy services to families. Talk to us about long-term planning, finding the right home for your loved ones, preventing crisis and abuse, and ensuring they receive the best care possible.