For many of us, the holidays offer a once-a-year time to visit with elderly relatives who live at a distance. A blog I wrote around the holidays offered tips on spotting when a loved one needs help. You certainly don't have to wait for the holidays to use these!
Mary Twomey, MSW, Co-Director, University of California, Irvine, Center of Excellence on Elder Abuse and Neglect offered these for us to share:
- Does an elderly 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 that person an appropriate caregiver? During your visit, keep an eye out for warning signs of self-neglect, or abuse or neglect by others. 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 service organizations during regular work hours.
- Make the most of your visits by taking some private time with the elder to discuss future planning. Allow time for them to express anxieties. You can decide together what needs to be done and who can help. Be observant while you are visiting.
Elder abuse could be contributing to the need for assistance.Self-Neglect – If the senior lives alone and does not have anyone providing assistance, self-neglect may become an issue. Some things to look for include:
- Senior appears confused
- Senior is no longer able to handle meal preparation, house cleaning, laundry, bathing, or timely bill payment
- Senior seems depressed
- Senior is drinking too much or is overusing drugs
- Senior is falling frequently
- Senior appears undernourished, dehydrated, under-medicated, or is getting care for problems with eyesight, hearing, dental problems, continence, etc.