There are many small signs of decline which might signal the need for extra help if spotted in an elderly loved one. It is vitally important to take action if you see these signs. Below are a few key things to look for:
1. Daily Tasks
Signs of decline in daily tasks include difficulty dressing, eating, cooking, climbing steps, driving or managing medications. Read more on older people and driving.
2. Hygiene and Appearance
Self-care tasks which maybe signal a problem include infrequent bathing or reduced efforts in personal appearance.
3. Household Responsibilities
Unopened mail, papers pilling up, unpaid bills, phone calls not returned, low food supply, unkempt home interior and/or exterior, laundry piling up, spilling and dropping things (check carpet for stains) and keeping curtains drawn, all signal signs of decline.
Signs of decline in overall health include weight loss, changes in appetite, problems swallowing, fatigue, burns, black and blue marks (possible signs of falling), hearing loss (look for signs of lip reading and talking loudly), withdrawn without reason, complaints of muscle weakness, insomnia, excessive sleeping or dehydration.
Reduced interest in outside friendships, talking, activities or hobbies all signal a problem.
When our loved ones are less happy in themselves, talk of being depressed or having feelings of despair, are unusually argumentative or have recently experienced an emotional or medical crisis, we may consider these signs of decline.
7. Cognitive Function
Signs of decline in cognitive function include consistent forgetfulness about where things are, getting lost whilst walking or driving, confusion or loss of reasoning skills, forgetting to close windows, turn off the stove or lock doors and loss of sense of time.