What are warning signs of age related decline?

Many times, elders will tell us one thing, and do something completely different. I find phone calls can be particularly deceptive, because what I hear can be a “memory response”, but not an actual occurrence.

The following tips are potential warning signs that your elderly parents may soon need some assistance.

— Missed appointments: Failing to meet a friend or doctor without cancelling in advance may be a sign of declining health.

— Maintaining hygiene: Pay attention to body odor, grooming, incontinence and dressing according to the season. The step of simply washing hands can be skipped by many seniors.

— Easily disoriented: A failure to recognize familiar spaces, wandering, or getting lost in well-known areas are early signs of dementia. (This may be Alzheimer’s Disease, which is one of many specific cases of memory impairment.)

— Loss of memory: Forgetting something at the store is a sign of “benign” memory loss; forgetting something at the store and not remembering that you did when someone reminds you of it is “malignant,” or pathological memory impairment and bears a closer look.

— Word problems: Not being able to recall a common word for something, or repeating oneself can be a symptom of dementia or mental illness. Do you experience the same stories, or the same comments, from your elderly parents? Sometimes this repetition can occur within minutes.

— Random check-writing: Sending money to previously unknown “charities” or other out-of-the-blue expenditures can signal an inability to exercise appropriate judgment. My mother is certainly guilty of this.

— Physical aggression: A senior who attacks others because they are believed to pose a threat shows an inability to control feelings of distress.

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– John D. Miller is the founder/owner of Home Care Partners, LLC, a Massachusetts business providing private duty, personalized in-home assistance and companion care services to those needing help in daily activities and household functions. He can be reached at: (781) 378-2164; email: jdmiller@homecarepartners.biz ; or online at: www.homecarepartnersma.com

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