Signs an older relative may need more help | BrightStar downtown-houston

Posted on December 4, 2012


The holidays are a wonderful time for families to gather and reminisce.  If we have elder members with us, the holidays can also be a good time to assess whether there is additional help to keep them happy, healthy and safe this coming year.

As you visit with them look for indicators signs there are bigger problems under the surface.  Little things like decreased mobility, change in appetite, unfilled medical prescriptions and not paying bills can be a sign of a much bigger problem.  If you observe any of these you can begin a discussion about how they are getting along and what their plans are.

This is not an easy discussion to have, particularly for our older relatives, so be prepared for some push back.  We all fear losing our independence and being a burden on others.  Remember, this is the start of the discussion; it may go on for weeks, months or years.

Stay focused on their needs and desires, ask about their plans for the future, what do they want.

If they are living alone, do they plan to continue to do that?  If so, it may be appropriate to ask if they have considered getting help with items they currently find challenging.  This can include transportation, shopping, cooking and cleaning up around the house and personal hygiene.

Trips to the doctor’s office can be a challenge for those with limited availability.  Where is the parking and how far is the walk into the building?  Do they fill their prescriptions after the visit or wait until later?  If there is family that is close by, talk to the pharmacist and ask that a family member be called if the doctor calls in a prescription so it can be picked up and delivered.

If they are having trouble getting around they may be having trouble with bathing and general hygiene and this can lead to infections, hospitalizations and deterioration in health.   It can be embarrassing to need help with hygiene but it is important to realize that staying healthy is more important than maintaining modesty.  This is one area where almost everyone agrees; having a caregiver who is trained and not a family member is preferable.

If they are having trouble walking throw rugs and extension cords can become hazards that can lead to a trip and fall – which in the elderly can be catastrophic.  What is their plan should they fall?  Can you pick up the rugs?

Trouble reading and opening medicine bottles can mean that too much or too little medicine is being taken or, perhaps ingested at the wrong time.  Can someone help them fill pill box every week? If they need injections do they have a sharps container so that the sharps can be disposed of properly and others in the house are not at risk of being poked with used needles?

The elderly move more slowly and need as much time as possible to respond to an emergency.  Do their smoke detectors and Carbon Monoxide detectors work?  When was the last time the batteries were replaced?

Do they want to move into Assisted Living or stay in their home?  If they want to stay in their home, have they considered that they may require help from family or friends?

Family and friends can help and BrightStar can fill in where the necessary.

BrightStar has Certified Senior Advisers on staff to assist you.  If you need advice or want to talk about how we can help give us a call at 832-730-1255.

If they are veterans they may qualify for benefits from the VA, this is not a normal VA pension for retired people so don’t discount it before you read it. Check out our series on VA Benefits for those over 65, basic pension. Also, VA House Bound and Aid and Attendance Benefits

If you need to keep family and friends involved and want an easy way to get volunteers check out How to lighten your load and CareTogther.

Signs an older relative may need more help | downtown-houston.