For many families, the holiday season may be the first time they’ve spent extended periods with loved ones after dealing with long separations during the pandemic. Because of virtual visits and quarantines, it may be the first chance some have to notice changes in their loved ones. If you’ve noted significant behavioral, cognitive, or physical changes in your loved one, it’s important to take steps to ensure they are getting the care they need.
If you decide that you or other family members are going to become caregivers for your loved one, understand that, while it is a deeply fulfilling commitment, it can also be daunting. Bringing in the right help at the right time can help ensure everyone has the support they need. This can include home health care, transportation services, meal deliveries, assisted living facilities or nursing homes, and palliative or hospice care.
Signs Your Loved One Needs More Help
If you don’t see them regularly, it can be difficult to notice changes in your loved one. Talking on the phone or video chats can help you catch up, but those interactions don’t paint a full picture of someone’s well-being. Your loved one may be missing medications or struggling to take care of themselves or their home. If it’s safe to do so during the pandemic, an in-person visit is critical to assessing how your loved one is feeling. Here are signs you should watch for during your visit:
Behavioral changes can range from obvious to subtle. Things like an excess of expired groceries, clutter, or even unopened mail can point to signs that something is wrong. You may also notice that your loved one has withdrawn from their social circle or lost interest in activities they used to enjoy. More obvious behavioral changes to note may be drastic mood swings, changes in their sleeping habits, or increased agitation.
We all have moments of forgetfulness but recurring moments of uncertainty, confusion, or a loss of reasoning skills may be part of a more serious issue. Having trouble concentrating, remembering recent events, missing appointments, or forgetting to take medications could be signs of Alzheimer’s or another type of dementia. For more information on recognizing early signs of dementia or Alzheimer’s, check out this blog from our Associate Medical Director, Dr. Arvind Modawal.
One of the easiest changes to notice if you’ve been away from your loved one is weight loss. If your loved one has lost a significant amount of weight (without actively trying to), they may be dealing with difficulty eating or drinking, standing, walking, sitting, or moving around. Poor grooming habits or wearing dirty clothes are also signs to be aware of when visiting your loved one. Any of these changes are cause for concern.
How To Get Help
Every situation is unique. Depending on your loved one's symptoms or eventual diagnosis, they may need varying levels of care. Their existing support system and living situation will also impact care. For example, if your loved one hasn’t suffered any severe cognitive or behavioral changes but has trouble getting around, they may need in-home palliative care, transportation, and meal delivery services. If they need more advanced care for a terminal illness, a nursing service or hospice care facility may be the right choice.
The first step is identifying that your loved one needs help, the second step is getting them to accept that help. It may be difficult for your loved one to admit they need help. Let them know that your goal is to help keep them healthy and as independent as possible. If they want to remain in their home, extra help may be required to do that.
The Eldercare Locator from the Administration for Community Living is a great resource for finding local support services for things like care, housing, transportation, and other resources.
If your loved one needs extra care, Hospice of Southwest Ohio is here to help. Our sister company, CareBridge Services, works with a patient’s regular doctor to provide palliative care. If your loved one is facing a terminal diagnosis, our hospice team helps to manage symptoms and provide comfort wherever your loved one prefers – at home, in an assisted living facility, or a nursing home. We have a compassionate team made up of talented nurses, social workers, chaplains, and more to ensure that the physical, mental, and spiritual needs of patients and their families are handled.
Hospice of Southwest Ohio Celebrates Life
At Hospice of Southwest Ohio, we’re proud to be your hometown hospice choice. We have an amazing team of professionals who are passionate about delivering high-quality, compassionate care every day. Hospice of Southwest Ohio offers hospice, palliative, and in-home primary care in and around the greater Cincinnati area in Clermont County, Butler County, Warren County, Hamilton County, Greene County, and Montgomery County. Call today at (513) 770-0820.