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Signs your aging loved one might need help

Gauging how well aging friends and family are functioning day-to-day can be a challenge. It can also be emotionally difficult to realize someone you love may be struggling and in need of extra help. If you live nearby, you can get an accurate picture of what your loved one really needs by spending time with them in person and at home. If you don't live nearby, you may need to enlist some caregiving help. 

9 signs your aging loved one might need caregiving help

Your loved one may not ask for help, so it's important to observe, ask questions, and recognize the signs that they might need extra help. Ask how they’re managing. Listen for hesitation in response to your concerns. Observe their abilities behind the wheel and around the home. Keep an eye out for these signs that they may need some help navigating their day-to-day. 
 
  • Home. When you visit, is your loved one's home like you remember it? An unusually dirty, smelly, or disorderly home may be a sign that they're struggling to keep up with everyday tasks.  
  • Car. Look for new scratches and dents. If you find some or hear about accidents or tickets, it may be time to rely on someone else for driving.  
  • Memory. Signs of forgetfulness include missed appointments, late and unpaid bills, and repeat purchases of the same item. Scorched pots could mean that they’ve been forgetting things on the stove.  
  • Mobility. As we age, everyday things like climbing stairs, getting in the shower, or getting out of bed can become risky activities. Pay attention to bruises, these may be the result of a fall. 
  • Hygiene. Dirty clothes, body odor, and dental issues are signs they’re not taking care of themselves. Lack of personal grooming can be a symptom of depression or that things are physically difficult.  
  • Weight. Unexplained weight changes could mean a new health concern or a sign your loved one is beginning to find cooking an onerous task. Check to see if the fridge is stocked with appropriate and nutritious food. 
  • Hobbies. If a loved one is giving up doing things they love, it could be a sign that they’re fighting depression or other health issues. Be on the lookout for abrupt changes in behavior. 
  • Health. Missed medical appointments and doses of medication can lead to dangerous situations. Make sure your loved one can handle these on their own. 
  • Social circle. Are they maintaining relationships with friends and family or are they declining social engagements? Social isolation and loneliness can have negative impacts on mental and physical health. 
 
Ultimately, it’s always a good idea to try to approach your aging loved one with empathy and compassion.  

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