QUESTION: I just spent some time with my dad who lives in another state and came away with some concerns about him continuing to live alone. What signs would indicate that it might be time to seek assistance for him?
ANSWER: A number of signs could send up a red-flag warning 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 now or in the near future.
First look at the appearance of the home itself. 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 burning with or without empty pans on the burners. If the refrigerator is almost empty, or contains food that is beyond its shelf life, the senior might not be eating properly or could be suffering from 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 activities are signs that the senior might be depressed or unable to care for him- 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, of course, 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 themselves further away from friends and family.
Missed doctor’s 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 in a calm mood.
SAATURDAY – July 6 -Ballroom Dance – at Goebel Active Adult Center in Thousand Oaks – doors open at 6:00 pm – dance lesson (Viennes Waltz) 6:30 to 7:20; dance (Dick Parent Trio band) 7:30. Admission $10 per person – check or cash.
WEDNESDAY – July 10 – Meeting – Ventura Parkinson’s Disease Support Group – new meeting time 12:30 to 2:30 pm – new meeting location – Community Meeting Room #201 at City of Ventura City Hall, 501 Poli Street in Ventura. For more information, RSVP’s and directions call Patty Jenkins at (805) 766-6070.
THURSDAY/FRIDAY – July 18 & 19 – 9:00 am to 1:00 pm – AARP Initial 2-day class – Driver Safety – at Moorpark Active Adult Center, 799 Moorpark Avenue in Moorpark. For reservations call (805) 517-6261.
Betty Berry is a senior advocate for Senior Concerns. The advocates are located at the Goebel Adult Community Center, 1385 E. Janss Road, Thousand Oaks, CA
91362 or call (805) 495-6250 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org Please include your telephone number.) You are invited to submit questions on senior issues.