Living in a different area code than your mom means you might feel like you have to play the role of detective if something doesn't quite add up. She reports that she is doing fine, but there is a feeling in the pit of your stomach that her day-to-day quality of life isn't what it should be. Is she eating properly? Is she lonely? Is she taking her medication correctly? Should she still be driving? Is it time to move to an Assisted Living Community?
Take the time to familiarize yourself with our top ten list of things to look for when visiting Mom during this holiday season to help you make the determination:
1. Does mom have bruises or scrapes that indicate she has been falling or bumping into things? Falling can be about balance, vision, a medication side effect or any number of things, it's best to take her to the doctor and get to the bottom of it.
2. Does she appear healthy and well-groomed? Hygiene may be one of the first things an elder experiencing decline may neglect.
3. Is there a variety of fresh foods in the home? She may be overwhelmed with the task of shopping, or she may not be eating much at all if the home has mostly expired food, or not much food at all.
4. Does it appear that the home has not been properly cleaned in a long time? Signs of decline in health or wellbeing will be evident if the home has also been neglected in ways that are uncharacteristic to their former patterns.
5. Are the sheets on her bed fresh and clean, or do they look like they haven't been changed in a long time? This could be a sign of limited mobility to complete more complex tasks that require bending and stretching.
6. Are there stacks of mail and/or bills? This may indicate she is stressed and overwhelmed, or she may be having a hard time keeping everything organized.
7. Are there new scuffs or dents on the front or back bumper of the vehicle? Are there warning lights on the dashboard of the vehicle indicating poor or deferred maintenance? This could indicate that driving has become unsafe.
8. Is there an abundance of prescribed medication indicating that many doses have been skipped? Or are there medications still in use that have long expired? Properly managing one's medication is critical to wellness and should be considered a major red flag.
9. Does she appear lonely? If mom is overly talkative, or suddenly pulled back, she may be experiencing some level of loneliness which can be mentally and emotionally debilitating. Prolonged loneliness will almost always lead to greater health complications.
10. Does mom seem to have any gaps in memory or recollection that are more than what the average person experiences in a day? We all have moments of forgetfulness, but if there is a new and evident pattern of confusion, something isn't quite right, and she should see her doctor right away.
If you answer yes to any of these questions above, it might be time to have a deeper conversation with mom about the enriching lifestyle she can enjoy at an Assisted Living Community. There she will find with support for daily tasks and the companionship she needs to thrive, as well as nutritious meals, and transportation. Meanwhile, you get peace-of-mind, the best feeling of them all.