How we relate to any of our family members, young and old, depends on many factors.
Older family members deserve special attention because age physically and mentally changes that person. If it is gradual and the family member still has control of basic functions, then your attention might be minimal. But it also depends on the relationship you have with the family member in terms of level and frequency of contact. Your living with that family member vs. your seeing and communicating on a seldom basis can make all the difference. Either way, these are some of the signs you should pay attention to that show your family member may need help:
- Medical Condition. This is the most obvious sign and often includes heart, cancer, or any major disease that would require extensive doctor, clinic, or hospital visits. You might have to be involved in the decision process, especially if finances are concerned.
- Food/Nutrition. Do you notice a change in eating habits, purchasing habits of food, and how they keep food in the home?
- Energy. See if you sense a lack of energy compared to the immediate past. Do they seem tired all the time?
- Memory, Memory, Memory. Cognitive memory diseases are more prevalent and must be recognized if you feel your family member has symptoms. These symptoms are often manifested in how they do daily tasks and the basic conversations they have.
- Finances. Do you feel the family member is not handling their finances correctly? Sometimes seniors are very private about this issue, but it does not hurt to ask questions if you feel there is a problem.
- Risk of Falling. If the family member has a tendency to fall or has trouble with basic body movements, you should pay particularly close attention and seriously consider regular caregiving, whether it be by you or a health professional.
- Basic behavior and personality. Any changes in your family member’s behavior could be an indicator of a more serious health issue.
- Hygiene. Take notice of their overall appearance, order, and clothes they wear, and be weary of any significant, sudden changes.
The most important process is to stay in contact as much as possible so the relationship between you and the family member is a loving and happy one.