Q: I just spent some time with my dad, who lives alone in another state, and came away with some concerns. What signs would indicate it might be time to seek assistance for him?
A: A number of signs could send up a red flag that not all is well in your dad’s household. Since you didn’t mention what gave you concern, I will mention the more common activities or situations that might indicate the need for assistance.
First, look at the appearance of the home. An unkempt or cluttered house might indicate that a senior is depressed or physically tired and unable to keep up with housekeeping tasks.
Looking at the kitchen might reveal used dishes and pots and pans piled up, or gas burners left on. If the refrigerator is almost empty, or contains food that is beyond its shelf life, the senior might not be eating properly or could have memory loss.
The senior’s personal appearance might also provide a warning. Unkempt hair, body odor, failure to change clothes and dressing inappropriately for the weather or activity are signs that the senior might be depressed or unable to care for himself or herself.
Check for daily mail piling up. A senior can feel overwhelmed by the simple task of opening mail and paying bills, which can result in problems with unpaid bills.
If you have an opportunity to ride with or observe the senior’s driving you might notice a decline in his or her skills. Speeding tickets, dented fenders or scratches on the car might indicate that driving should be curtailed.
Some seniors who live alone lose interest in eating, while others become reluctant to leave home. Loneliness can lead people to pull further away from friends and family.
Missed doctors’ appointments or social engagements or losing track of taking medications can be signs of depression or forgetfulness.
When considering if assistance is required, you need to sit down and have a heart-to-heart conversation. You must listen and hear what the senior thinks is wrong and what he or she thinks would be the best way to resolve the problem. This will be a very sensitive subject, so it should be a planned meeting when both parties are unrushed and calm.
Follow more easily with a like:
Wednesday: Senior Issues Series seminar “Self Assessing Your Driving Skills” from 1:30-3 p.m. at Westlake Village Civic Center, 31200 E. Oak Crest Drive in Westlake Village.
Thursday: “Are You Caring for an Aging Loved One?” seminar, 7-8:30 p.m. at Emmanuel Church located at Camino Manzanas and Lynn Road in Thousand Oaks. Senior Concerns Senior Advocates will share information about resources and services that are available to assist in caregiving. For information call the Advocate’s Office at 495-6250.
Saturday: Fundraiser for Conejo Senior Volunteer Program at Conejo Players Theatre performance of “The Graduate.” Reception is at 1 p.m., and curtain call is at 2, followed by a raffle. Tickets are $20 and include a raffle ticket and can be purchased at the Goebel Center front desk. For more information call 381-2742.
May 27: Senior/Teen Prom, 5-8 p.m. at Goebel Adult Community Center in Thousand Oaks. For more information call 381-2744.
June 2: Empowered Caregiver Series presentation “Retirement Planning: Paying the Bills when the Paychecks Stop,” 5:30-7 p.m. at Senior Concerns Day Care Center, 401 Hodencamp Road in Thousand Oaks. For reservations call 497-0189.
June 3: The Thousand Oaks Council on Aging Meeting presentation “The Answer’s Clear – Volunteer,” 1 p.m. in the boardroom at Thousand Oaks Civic Arts Plaza, 2100 E. Thousand Oaks Blvd. For information call 381-7362
June 4: Senior of the Year Dinner and Award Ceremony, 5:30 p.m. at Goebel Adult Community Center, 1385 E. Janss Road in Thousand Oaks. Tickets are $6 and available at the Goebel Center. For information call 381-7362.
June 7: Senior Concerns Love Run 10K, 5K and 1-mile run/walk at 3011 Townsgate Road in Westlake Village. For information call 497-0189.