As the holidays dim and your January/February to-do’s fill up with worries about your aging parents , let’s help you focus. If you found it was actually frightening to be home for Christmas , let’s turn you into a loving Sherlock Holmes . On your next visit to see your older family members , get out your magnifying glass and look for these clues .
➢ Curb Appeal- Does your parent’s home look more like an unmaintained rental.Is there disrepair, a weedy yard,uncleaned carpets or furniture?
➢ Housekeeping- are there dirty dishes ,unwashed sheets,a mess where things use to be tidy? Does the house look like it needs a scrubbing,at least someone to help with cleaning?
➢ Medication: can you find a stash of outdated medication in the bathroom , bedroom or anywhere?
➢ Driving. Is driving with your older family member or friend frightening ? How is their reaction time, or judgment . Can they drive at night? Do they have traffic tickets? Assess the car. Is it worse for wear , dented or telltale signs of accidents?
➢ Trash- are their bags of trash in the basement or out back? Look in closets
➢ Collections- are their growing collections that appear to be out of control? Designer plates from the U S Mint , antique dolls, ashtrays, cookie cutters.–any accumulation that appears to be taking over space and looks excessive is suspect. This is a sign of hoarding
➢ Shopping- When they go shopping out for a meal, does the older person have problems with checks credit cards, figuring tips, forgets their purse , calculating discounts?
➢ Change in Behavior- Is the older person quiet when they used to be loud ? Are they paranoid, having mood swings, unsocial when they were the belle of the ball or life of the party?.
➢ Odors- Did you smell urine?
➢ Refrigerator- Are there science experiments aka moldy food in the refrigerator. ?
If any of these clues turn you need talk the older person, the subject of my next blog. You may also need to call in a geriatric care manager , for help.