When a Lifestyle Change May Be Necessary
Physicians and geriatric social workers warn that there are a number of danger signs that indicate an elderly person needs extra help or a change in living arrangement. Any marked change should be noted; however, no change in lifestyle should be made without discussions with the elderly person, other family members, and doctors or other health professionals.
- Sudden weight loss could be an indication that the elderly person is simply not eating or not preparing foods.
- Failure to take medication or overdosing may indicate confusion, forgetfulness, or a misunderstanding of the doctor’s instructions.
- Burns or injury marks may indicate physical problems involving general weakness, forgetfulness, or a possible misuse of alcohol.
- Deterioration of personal habits such as infrequent bathing and shampooing, not shaving, or not wearing dentures could be the result of either mental or physical problems.
- Increased car accidents can indicate slowed reflexes, poor vision, physical weakness, or general inability to handle a vehicle.
- General forgetfulness such as not paying bills, missing appointments, or consistently forgetting name, address, phone number, and meal times could be a signal.
- Extreme suspiciousness could indicate some thought disorder. Your parents thinking that their neighbors, friends, family, doctor, and lawyer are all conspiring against them would be an example. Intense ungrounded fears about dire consequences may be a danger signal.
- A series of small fires could be caused by dozing off, forgetting to turn off the stove or appliances, or carelessness with matches. They may indicate blackouts or dizzy spells.
- Bizarre behavior of any kind could be a warning sign. This behavior could be dressing in heavy gloves and overcoat in 90 degree weather or going outside without shoes when it’s snowing. Watch for uncharacteristic actions or speech.
- Disorientation of a consistent nature may indicate a need for help. Examples include not knowing who one is, where one is, who the family is, or talking to people who are not there.