One of the more challenging things an adult child often has to do is consider if and when an aging parent in the Northridge area needs a caregiver or other home health services.
But they don’t have to make this evaluation alone. A health care provider can offer advice, as well as the team at Accredited Home Care, who has worked with seniors in the region for more than 35 years.
On one hand, family members can be good at spotting subtle or larger physical or mental changes in their parents as they age, since they’ve been with them for a long time and are more accustomed to what constitutes their normal range of behaviors.
Adult children also often spend a lot of time with them as well and should notice quickly when or if something changes.
But at the same time, some family members, especially those who don’t visit a parent or communicate regularly, may not know right away that something is different, may not want to consider health or aging changes of a parent, or want to leave the diagnosing to professionals.
In some cases, family members may see changed behavior or actions and not necessarily know what it means, such as an empty refrigerator or a parent with a bad leg. Either or both of these could indicate that the person is unable to drive themselves to the store for food on a regular basis.
Why It’s Not Easy
Part of the challenge in assessing a parent’s mental or physical condition lies with the adult child or adult children who might not want to acknowledge a parent’s mortality, have difficult conversations, or make difficult decisions.
But beyond this is the parent or parents themselves, who equally may not want to have these types of discussions.
A big reason is the possibility of disruption to a generally solid routine. If one or both parents are determined to need a higher level of care than they currently receive, this thought could create all sorts of anxieties.
Would one or both parents have to move somewhere else to receive better medical care and better supervision?
Would family members have to quit their jobs or move to help?
Would anyone trustworthy around town be able to provide help?
Would money be available to make this switch?
Professional home health care personnel are used to these types of questions, and are happy to answer them. Often, once someone has all the information and has been reassured that a higher level of care is beneficial, and other concerns met, they’re more likely to want to know more, especially if these types of services allow them to remain in their home.
What To Look For
An adult child should always be observing, but discretely when possible. A senior may not answer a direct question about their physical or mental state, especially if they’re also concerned about a potential decline, but they’re more likely to share general information about their condition or conditions or any concerns in conversations or visits, or perform certain behaviors that can be observed. They also may be self-conscious about little things like memory lapses if they know they’re being observed/assessed.
So it is up to the child or children to try to watch discretely and interpret what they see.
Some Signs Can Include:
Nutritional challenges. Not eating well is a big warning sign. Maybe they don’t have any healthy food in their refrigerator or pantry, or a wide variety of unhealthy snacks. Maybe the food they have is old to the point of being moldy, spoiled or otherwise unhealthy.
The state of their condition could signal several possibilities. They don’t feel comfortable going out to get groceries; they aren’t able to determine what’s good and bad, which has the potential to cause sickness; or that they have difficulty cooking for themselves.
There could be other food-related concerns. They could be gaining weight from eating too much junk and snacks and not enough good food. Or they could be losing weight if their nutritional needs aren’t being met.
Mental problems. Some degree of minor confusion can be expected as someone ages. But significant changes in short-term or long-term memory can also be a potential danger sign for Alzheimer’s disease or other dementia. This can include forgetting details and tasks that the person previously knew well, or knew recently, such as cooking, housework or even grooming.
This could also extend to other aspects of their lives – are they forgetting to pay bills or to keep appointments? Are they more prone to stronger-than-usual emotions like anger or sadness due to forgetting more details?
General Health needs. Beyond those two areas, children could notice significant changes in health conditions, such as not taking medications regularly or regular medications not working as well, which could indicate that a different dosage may be needed.
Even if you aren’t entirely sure you’re interpreting information correctly, a second opinion never hurts. You may be able to alert their primary medical provider and encourage him or her to ask them to come in for an evaluation. Or they may refer you to a specialist in the Northridge area in aging/senior care.
Accredited Home Care can also provide assistance in evaluating a parent or helping communicate to them the value of home health services.