End of Life – When to Get Help for an Elderly Loved One

When you visit an elderly family member in their home, look at their surroundings, and watch for changes that may signal a new physical or mental problem. Or perhaps he or she is no longer capable of living alone.

This is often a very difficult decision, but if made in a timely manner the risk of illness or injury can be minimized.

Above all, don’t force your love ones into a facility against their will. Allow them to have dignity at the end of their lives.

They may choose to stay in their home if autonomous and coherent. Fortunately, there are some wonderful resources for this situation:

  • Hospice: If your loved is terminal, call your local Hospice. They are wonderful in every aspect—they offer:
    • Physical and medical help from making breakfast and bathing to having a nurse and social worker visit regularly to assist with anything they need.
    • Massage and physical therapy.
    • Religious assistance.
    • Grief Counseling for the family.
    • 24-hour phone assistance and emergency visits.
  • Home Health Groups: If your loved one needs in-home care, Home Health groups (like Home Helpers, who provided the Ten Warning Signs article) are a blessing to both the family and the loved one. They also provideHelp for new mothers.
    • Help for new mothers.
    • Care after an illness or an injury.
    • Continued care for those with long term needs.
    • 24-hour assistance with Direct Link (emergency button you wear).

There are links for these groups on the Resources page.

Ten Warning Signs that Mom or Dad May Need Help

  1. Personal hygiene – Is he shaving? Does she shower less frequently, wear dirty clothes, or have neglected teeth? Are there any injuries that you can see? Is there a urine smell?
  2. Forgetfulness – Are there stacks of unopened mail or newspapers, unpaid bills, unfilled prescriptions or missed appointment slips?
  3. Interaction/Behavior – Does she constantly repeat questions? Can he carry on an extended conversation? Does he refuse any suggestion or does he just agree with everything said? Does he retain what was said? Are there any apparent mood swings? Is he unusually loud or quiet? Is she angry? Making phone calls at all hours of the night?
  4. Relationships – Do friends call? Have relationships changed in such a way that friends and neighbors have expressed concerns? Has she quit socializing or participating, when she has always kept those fun appointments?
  5. Mobility/Medication – Can she get around? Can he take medications without supervision? What are the medications? Who goes to the doctor with him? Is he going to the doctor at all or does she refuse to go?
  6. Refrigerator/Eating Habits – Does it contain adequate food? Is there any spoiled food present? Have his eating habits changed? Has she lost weight? Has she missed meals or have a lack of appetite?
  7. Shopping – Can he determine tips or does he have difficulty? Any problems making change or writing checks?
  8. Buying things not needed – Is there evidence of excessive shopping or ordering? Is the mail full of charitable letters, a sign that money is being given to anyone who asks?
  9. House – Does it look maintained, or is it in disrepair? Is dust accumulating where (at one time) she was a great housekeeper? Is trash accumulating?
  10. Driving – Can he drive safely? Is her reaction time adequate on the road? Are there any signs of an accident?
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One Response to End of Life – When to Get Help for an Elderly Loved One

  1. People approaching the end of life go through some physical and emotional changes. If you re looking after someone with a terminal illness you may find it useful to understand what to expect, and what can be done to make things as peaceful and calm as possible. If you re not ready to read the information on these pages yet you can come back to them at any time.

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