Male Family MembersAs an elder care adviser, I speak with concerned family members everyday. Many don’t know when it’s time to step in, so I tell them that there are warning signs that I would watch for that I believe families should address immediately:

Medication Mismanagement: Medication mismanagement should be taken very seriously. It can cause confusion, depression, dehydration, and falls that can lead to hospitalization or worse. It is easy to become confused with the amount and frequency of the medication which leads to forgetting dosages or doubling up on them. There are several products in the marketplace that can help, planners with alarms that only open to the proper compartment. So watch carefully. Many times this is one of the first signs of trouble.

Isolation/Withdrawing: If your loved one is starting to isolate themselves or withdraw from doing things that they love, it is important to notice and address this. There could be a variety of reasons for this. Depression, dementia (afraid of embarrassing themselves) or a variety of other factors.

Eating/Meal Concerns: Does your loved one only eat high sugar content foods or frozen foods packed with sodium? Do you visit and find the same food in the refrigerator as the week before? Lack of proper nutrition can lead to confusion, diabetes concerns, lower immunity and dehydration.

Forgetfulness: There can be many causes of forgetfulness or short term memory loss. Seeing a doctor should be done to rule out any issues related to dementia or medication related concerns. I always recommend a neurologist or geriatrician. Someone who specializes in seniors.

As a child or spouse of someone with these issues, it can be very difficult to address these concerns with your loved one. But it is better to address them than to wait until they hurt themselves or someone else.

Educate yourself about what is available. Knowing options for either in home care or some form of assisted living will be important for planning purposes in case you need to put an action into place. I deal with so many families who are in crisis mode. We can definitely get the job done, but proper planning can help make the process less stressful on both the family and the loved one.