Welcome to the latest edition of Senior Snippets: the advisory column with the older members of our community in mind, brought to you by Max Goddard of Home Instead in Guildford and Woking.
Consider the following list of events. None are particularly concerning on their own; we all miss appointments, or lose our keys occasionally. Some days we simply don’t want to check our post or wash the dishes. But should we be concerned if our ageing parent, friend or loved one acts out a number of these instances in a short period of time?
If these are out of character, or come with a state of confusion or denial, maybe it is time to have an important, yet beneficial, conversation. Catching these signs early is essential to promoting good quality of life, and ensuring that support is there when it becomes necessary. The hashtag #considercare is attached to these ‘signs’, as although they point to the potential need for care, they do not necessarily mean it is the case.
Some of the signs could include:
The unread post
Your organised parent has begun to ignore post, and you notice a pile-up of post. If this is unusual behaviour for your normally organised mum or dad, then maybe there is an explanation for this?
The missed appointments
You are regularly pestered for a lift to your loved one’s hospital appointments, but you notice that it has been a few weeks since that has happened. This seems out of character.
The overflowing bins
Your mum normally dreads the sight and smell of an overflowing bin! So why is it that there is now a horrible smell in the kitchen, and the big bins haven’t been put out for a few weeks?
That mysterious dent
A strange dent appears on the side of your parent’s car, which they adore. You ask them how it happened, and they don’t recall when or how, nor that it was there in the first place.
The unwashed dishes
You begin to notice the empty mugs accumulating in the sink, which slowly turns into a pile of unwashed dishes. For your clean-freak father this is normally unheard of!
Pets’ strange behaviour
Upon arriving for your regular catch up with your friend, you aren’t greeted by the dog that normally won’t leave you alone. Within 5 minutes that same tired dog is chasing its tail erratically. This might mean Max the Labrador isn’t getting walked?
The empty fridge
Not only is the fridge almost entirely empty, but the 2 or 3 items that are there are a week out of date. For your foodie mum this is quite strange.
The forgotten kettle
Your dad has now offered you 3 cups of tea since you arrived an hour ago. He’s put the kettle on, and completely forgotten about it each time. Normally you would have drunk 3 cups by now.
The misplaced keys
Your older brother is normally the most organised person you know, but now he loses his keys on a regular basis. There are only so many times you can give him your spare key.
The forgotten medication
For a parent who has stuck to their medication schedule for years, it seems quite odd that you notice missed days in their medication packet. Why is this?
Keep an eye out for these types of behaviour. Don’t be alarmed as soon as you notice one occurrence, or even a few. Just take note of the behaviour, and if it begins to seem out of character, then maybe it is time to #considercare.