, Derry, New Hampshire


December 14, 2011

Holiday visits a good time to check older relatives

AUBURN — Are you going home for the holidays? If you are, in addition to celebrating, take a moment to make sure your older loved ones are still capable of managing their daily lives on their own.

Often, older adults need some help to stay safe and healthy, but don't like to admit it. To help determine if older people need help to stay at home, Visiting Angels, the nation's leading network for quality, compassionate home care, has developed a simple checklist.

First up, check their appearance. Notice if he or she is wearing appropriate clean clothing, or has body odor that could indicate difficulty bathing, washing hair or brushing teeth.

A drastic change in appearance is an immediate clue that the activities of daily living may be becoming more difficult. It's also a potential indicator of deteriorating vision and possibly changes in mental acuity.

Next, take a look around the home. See if the refrigerator appropriately stocked, if the house is tidy, and dishes and laundry are being taken care of in a timely manner.

Ask about meals, if they are eating enough and getting enough water. See if medications are organized or if there are expired medications or bottles all over the house.

A change in housekeeping and food choices can indicate difficulty managing shopping, cleaning or cooking.

Talk with your loved one about their daily routine. Ask about activities and friends and if they are still participating in things they enjoy. Ask if they are able to get themselves to where they want to go.

Make sure they are keeping doctor's appointments and understand medications they are taking. Also ask about whether they are paying bills on time and checking their mail.

Giving up activities, missing appointments and ignoring the mail are all signs that an older person may need help. They're also signs of possible depression, an issue that affects older Americans at alarming rates. If you notice a change in interests or participation in activities, you may want to speak with their doctor to rule out medical issues and look into assistance for them.

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