The Holiday’s: Red Flags
By Nila Bair
The holiday’s are a time when we gather together as family and friends to celebrate the season of thanks and giving. Our homes are filled with the aroma of pumpkin pie, laughter, and memories of yesteryear. It’s the time where we see our older loved ones that we may not see on a regular basis. It’s around this time that we may take notice that our parents/grandparents are no longer quite as “young” as they use to be.
As we mentally process these “Red Flags”, we need to take them serious and consider the repercussions if we do not. I have listed below just a few “Red Flags” that should be discussed as a family if your older loved one is exhibiting them.
Red Flag: Falling and/or nearly falling
Falling can lead to a drastic quality of life change if not taken serious and treated. Keep in mind that falling doesn’t mean that the individual had to have hit the ground and hurt themselves. Falling can be sliding out of bed or a chair. It can be losing one’s balance and catching the wall or a chair to stabilize one’s self from hitting the ground. All of these are considered falls and should be cause for concern if they are happening repeatedly. If your loved one is falling 1-3 times a month on average, it’s time to take them into see their primary care physician and discuss home health and possibly moving them into an assisted living facility where they can receive more care. Many falls can lead to broken hips, which takes your loved one to the hospital where they can catch pneumonia or sepsis and possibly pass. Falls should not be taken lightly, especially in those who are 65+ in age.
Red Flag: Trouble doing activities of daily living
The six basic activities of daily living (ADL’s) are eating, bathing, getting dressed, toileting, transferring and continence. If you notice that your loved one is dropping weight, or wearing the same outfit multiple days/weeks in a row, or has a smell that they never have had before then it may be time to consider an assisted living facility to ensure your loved one is being properly taken care of. While in the assisted living facility, you can take your loved one to their primary care physician and see about getting additional help with cares through home health, assuming they qualify and the doctor deems it appropriate.
Red Flag: Struggling to remember common things/places
Many people believe that losing your memory is a part of aging and getting old; however, they are wrong. Forgetting to get an item at the store is not the same as memory loss or cognitive decline. If your loved one is struggling to remember how to get from their bedroom to the kitchen in the home they have lived in for over 50 years, this would be a cause for concern. Perhaps your loved one has been doing some quirky things like wearing multiple layers of clothing or struggling to find the words to express their thoughts and feelings. These are all possible signs of memory loss or a TIA (transient inschemic attack). If you’re noticing things like this in your loved one, get them into see their primary care physician and possibly a neurologist. Also, start discussing moving them into an assisted living facility, dependent upon what the doctor says. There are great assisted living facilities that cater specifically to memory loss residents.
Red flags can be scary and overwhelming when we take notice of them. In fact, many times people tend to ignore the red flags and just get frustrated with their loved one or just pass it off as them simply “getting old”. Don’t be a victim to that. Be aware and have the hard conversations with your loved one’s about what you’re seeing. Help them understand that you want to help them maintain the highest quality of life possible, which may mean some major changes in their daily living, such as where they reside. Call your local assisted living communities today and set up a tour, you and your loved one will see how “homey” they are.
Nila Bair is a senior care consultant and marketing manager for Encompass Health. She has been empowering and educating seniors and their families for over 2 years. Her passion for senior care shines through in her commitment to providing the best care and education possible for both her residents and families. Dementia, Alzheimer’s Awareness, and Memory Care are one of her biggest platforms she wants to educate people on, as her grandmother was a victim of Alzheimer’s and her mom recently passed due to advanced vascular dementia, Alzheimer’s, and congestive heart failure.