It used to be the case that, when children grew up and moved out of their parent’s homes, they stayed nearby and maintained close relationships. These days, it’s far more common for adult children to move out of state, or even across the country, to pursue career opportunities, relationships, or lifestyle changes.
While there’s nothing wrong with moving away from home, it’s important to realize that as young and established adults grow and thrive, their parents’ lives are changing, too. Long-distance caregivers and concerned family members can use this upcoming holiday season as an opportunity to check in and see how Mom and Dad are really doing. Before packing those bags, learn about what to look for in terms of signs of trouble while visiting elderly relatives in California.
Unexplained Weight Loss
It’s not always easy to judge how an aging parent’s health is holding up during a short visit. Unexplained and unintended weight loss is, however, a fairly obvious sign of ill health. Seniors often experience weight loss as a result of physical problems, including cancer, cognitive decline leading to dementia, and mental health issues like depression.
No matter what’s causing a loved one’s weight loss, if it’s extreme, take it as a sign it’s time for an intervention. Help the afflicted person schedule a doctor’s appointment or, if there are other signs of declining physical, mental, and cognitive health, consider recommending a move to an assisted living apartment.
Changes in Mobility
Try to pay close attention to how elderly parents are getting around. Mobility impairments are more common in old age, and changes in gait, obvious pain, or an unwillingness to get up and move around can all indicate underlying problems.
It’s important not to ignore mobility impairments. Whether the senior’s mobility problems are related to joint, muscle, or neurological issues, they will place him or her at an increased risk of falling. More than one in four elderly people experience a dangerous fall each year, and the chances of injury increase with each incidence, so take this problem seriously.
If a loved one is beginning to experience mobility impairments, take a look around the home. If any of the following safety problems are present, think about suggesting a move to a retirement community that is designed to accommodate the mobility impaired.
- Multiple stories
- Stairs leading into the home
- Narrow hallways that cannot accommodate walkers or wheelchairs
- Obstacles in the way of getting around
- Excessive throw rugs
- Bathrooms that are far away from bedrooms
- Lack of grab bars in the shower or tub
- Uneven floor surfaces
- Inadequate lighting
Some seniors are hesitant to move into apartments or cottages at retirement communities because they don’t want to give up their independence. Remind them that when mobility impairments start coming into play, accepting help is the best way to maintain independence and dignity without sacrificing personal safety.
Obvious Cognitive Decline
Almost everyone forgets names, misplaces keys, or has a hard time finding the right words every once in a while, but adult children of aging parents shouldn’t allow themselves to be lulled into a sense of false security. Cognitive decline associated with Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia starts off slow but can accelerate quickly if those affected by it do not get the help they need.
Some of the early signs of cognitive decline can be hard to spot during quick visits. Family members who plan to stay a few days should make a point of keeping an eye out for warning signs such as:
- Forgetting dates and appointments
- Forgetting recent events
- Getting overwhelmed by making plans
- Having a difficult time understanding instructions
- Losing the sense of direction
- Inability to organize tasks effectively
- Increases in impulsivity
Only a professional can diagnose the underlying problems behind cognitive decline, so help with scheduling an appointment for a neurological assessment before heading home. If a senior may be at risk as a result of worsening cognitive deficits, it’s time to start looking into memory care options. When dementia patients get the care and assistance they need, it’s sometimes possible to slow the progression of the disease.
Consider Ocean Hills
Seniors and their family members have tons of choices when it comes to finding elder care communities, but they’re not all created equal. Here at Ocean Hills, we provide luxurious senior living accommodations designed to meet our elderly residents’ changing needs. From independent living to advanced memory care units, we’ve got it all. Browse our website to learn about our services and amenities or call (760) 295-8515 to schedule a tour.