With the help of family or friends, an elderly person can be kept at home. It is however important to anticipate eventual loss of autonomy. Generally an unexpected crisis will indicate loss of autonomy in a senior, such as, falling, sickness, loss of memory… It is possible to observe certain red flags in regards to the condition of our parent or loved ones. If family or friends notice warning signs, we can then manage the crisis and anticipate the loss of autonomy. More attention should be paid to the following warning signs:
SIGNS OF BOREDOM, HEALTH CONDITIONS AND LOSS OF AUTONOMY
Recurrent pain, rapid loss of hearing or vision, or neglected hygiene.
PROBLEMS KEEPING BALANCE
Falls can indicate a disease or a loss of autonomy in seniors: a complete medical exam is recommended. The purchase of a cane or walker can prevent more falls causing further injury.
ODD CHANGES IN BEHAVIOUR
Unreasonable irritation or intense anger, neglect of home maintenance, accumulation of unpaid bills, pile up of mail and returned cheques, can indicate cognitive problems, whether they are mild problems or signs of more serious diseases. (refer to our article on Alzheimer’s disease)
CHANGES IN EATING HABITS
Unbalanced diet; nearly empty refrigerator; less or no interest in preparing meals; difficulty cooking; no longer eats at regular times, even forgets to eat; these are signs which indicate that it is time to act rapidly and put an intervention plan in place, such as (home care services, temporary housing in a safe environment whether with the family or in a seniors’ residence).
DEPRESSION IS AN EARLY WARNING SIGN OF LOSS OF AUTONOMY
Your parent wants to stay alone; they neglect their appearance, no longer wants to participate in activities which they use to appreciate. They do not have the same usual humor and sudden severe mood-swings?
These are symptoms of depression. In seniors this can reveal the existence of serious health problems. Make sure to consult a doctor with your parent, take them out, meet people, have group activities, make them visit a seniors’ residence.