Family members must prepare now for the day their senior needs more help — the kind of help that may require them to reprioritize their lives. If only there were a date set aside for this change in everybody’s life. But we must keep in mind that a sudden fall or illness could change everything — and it could happen at any time.

Our seniors can have active lives up until the day they don’t. Then, family members may have to change directions suddenly. This may involve taking time off work and moving other commitments to the back burner.

However, we can look for signs that indicate our senior may soon be needing a bit more help. Here are a few to look out for:

AGE: The older your senior is, the closer they will be to needing help, especially if they are slowing down physically.

MEMORY: Forgetfulness could be a sign of illness affecting the brain or other systems. This symptom generates worry for family members who must leave their senior alone for long periods of time.

DRIVING: If your senior is not driving anymore because it is not “safe” due to visual problems, mobility issues or cognitive concerns, this may be a sign that other tasks are not easy for them as well.

WEIGHT LOSS OR DEHYDRATION: These are real concerns that indicate they are not eating or drinking enough. Frequent urinary tract infections may indicate not enough fluid intake or poor personal hygiene in the bathroom.

UNPAID BILLS/UNOPENED MAIL: Our seniors like to have control over their finances until there comes a day when they stop opening their mail. This is a clue they are either forgetting to do it or its not a priority for them anymore.

FREQUENT PHONE CALLS WHILE FAMILY IS AT WORK: If family members are receiving frequent calls from their senior during working hours, it may mean things are about to change. These frequent calls can indicate loneliness, forgetting that they just called or anxiety about something they have no control over.

FALLS: This could be the “last straw,” especially if the fall results in an injury. Family members may have to find outside help to monitor their senior for safe mobility while they are away at work.

Just like planning ahead for disasters, planning for the day your senior needs help should be a priority, so being aware of some of the scenarios above should be on your radar.

Of course, your senior will deny they need help and may say something like, “I don’t want you to worry about me. I can take care of myself.” But if you feel that twinge in your gut telling you that what you are seeing is not consistent with what they are saying, don’t ignore it! Now may be the time to move into a different role for your senior or the time to seek outside help.

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1580 Makaloa St., Ste. 1060, Honolulu, HI 96814
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by Attention Plus Care — a program providing resources for seniors and their families, covering different aging topics each month. For class information and upcoming topics, call 808-440-9356.