How To Determine If Someone Needs Help

The loss of family members and friends, a change in living arrangements or finances, retirement, the loss of driving privileges, and even the death of a pet are lifestyle transitions that may affect your loved one.  Ideally, they will ask for our help during times like these, but, as family members have learned, this may not happen. Keep an eye out for these signs that your loved one may need help while visiting this holiday season:

Look for patterns of consistent neglect within the following contexts:

  • Basic tasks – difficulty in walking, dressing, talking, eating, cooking, climbing steps, or managing medications.
  • Hygiene – infrequent bathing, unusually sloppy appearance, foul body and/or mouth odor.
  • Responsibilities – mail is unopened, papers are piled up, checkbook is unreadable, bills are unpaid, bank account overdraft notices are accumulating, prescriptions are unfilled, phone calls aren’t returned, cooking pots and pans look burned, refrigerator interior has foul odor, food supply is low, home interior and/or exterior is unkempt, laundry is piling up, or automobile has new dents.
  • Health – weight loss, changes in appetite, problems swallowing, black and blue marks (possible signs of falling), seems withdrawn without reason, incontinence.
  • Isolation – lack of interest in outside friendships, activities, or hobbies, keeps curtains drawn day and night, has little access to transportation, lives in another city or state, and lives alone.
  • Attitude – display of verbal or physical abuse, talk of being depressed and feelings of despair, abuse of alcohol or drugs, paranoia, refusal to communicate, unusual argumentativeness.
  • Cognitive functions – consistent forgetfulness about where things are, confusion, loss of reasoning skills, difficulty answering questions, inability to find the right word, use of repetitive words or phrases, severe personality changes, inability to recall names of familiar people or objects, forgetting to turn off the stove.