Studies show that about eleven percent of caregivers in the United States do so from a distance. However, occasionally they will want to visit the senior community during the holidays to see their loved ones in person, and there are a number of things that should be taken into consideration when doing so.
Alterations in Mobility and Balance
When visiting your loved one, note how they walk or move. If they seem reluctant to walk, or manifest changes in their gait, this could mean that they have neurological, muscle or joint problems. If they also seem unsteady when standing, this means they are at a greater risk of falling down, which shouldn’t be taken lightly as nearly three million aging Americans are injured each year due to falling down and some sustain head or hip fractures.
Find out what therapy services the community offers to help your loved one maintain balance. Otherwise, they might become so afraid of falling down that they could withdraw and cease participation in community activities which will worsen the problem since they will become even frailer.
They’ve Lost Weight
In aging individuals, weight loss is often a sign of poor health. There are a number of things which can cause this, such as depression, cancer or dementia. If your loved one seems to have fatigue or low energy levels, this can be make it tougher for them to prepare meals and clean afterwards. There are also medications which can lower appetite and even alter the manner in which food tastes.
If you notice that your loved one has lost weight during the visit, it means they either have a health problem that the community cannot resolve or the community isn’t providing the proper care. You must speak to the community caretakers immediately to get to the root of the problem. Inquire about the medication they’re taking and why they’ve lost weight. You should also schedule an appointment with a doctor.
In most retirement communities the residents will have their own private dwellings. When visiting your loved one you’ll want to make note of the surroundings. If they are known for being tidy, but their apartment seems cluttered with stacks of mail that hasn’t been opened, this signifies a problem. Look through their medicine cabinet and review the expiration dates on the bottles. Many elders do not like taking pills, so if you notice the medications are unused, this could lead to problems.
How to Handle the Situation
If you notice any of the three things above during your retirement community visit, your first inclination may to become upset with the caretakers, who you might feel are not providing the proper care. This could certainly be the case, but it could also mean that your loved one has health issues which are beyond their capability to cope with, which means you’ll want to relocate them into a different community which will give them the proper care. Making an appointment with a therapist or physician can aid your decision.