For Seniors: Knowing When to Get Help

elderly-man-dog--on-porchFor most of us independence and privacy is an important condition for a comfortable life. So it’s natural for seniors to struggle with knowing when to get help. It’s also difficult to accept that you need help. After all, you’ve been independent for decades and have your own habits and methods of doing things. Life has a rhythm that has always just “fit” but lately you’ve had questions. Life doesn’t seem to be as easy as it once was, because of physical changes that  occur as you age. That doesn’t mean this is easy to accept. You may even find yourself dealing with those changes ineffectively. Eventually, though, the question starts ringing in your head, “When should I look for help?”

But then you think, “Oh, I don’t need help. I don’t want to be a burden to anyone.” or “I can’t tell my kids I need help – they’ll want to put me in a nursing home.” “I’m being silly. I can do this. I’m  just not trying hard enough.” And so you wait and do what you can, even though you are unhappy that you are letting “some things” slide, all the while still wondering, “When should I look for help?” For seniors, knowing when to get help is not an easy questions to answer.

 The good news is you don’t have to guess. There are some common indicators that help you tell when it’s time to get some help. You don’t have to wait for a crisis situation to throw everyone into a panic. If fact, the goal should be to avoid the crisis, for everyone’s benefit, and especially for yours. Knowing when to get help for seniors isn’t something to avoid. Should you have to grace to live long enough, you will need help at some point. Recognizing when that time comes can extended and enhance your independence. It can also keep you out of a nursing home, out of a hospital, and extend your life and the quality of your life.

Knowing When to Get Help: Here are some indicators to consider and evaluate when deciding whether or not you should seek assistance…

Movement and Daily Tasks:

Have you been diagnosed with a medical condition or are you taking mediation that your abilities to dress, groom, shave, prepare meals, or clean your home? Do you struggle with getting items out of cupboards that used to be easy to reach? Is it difficult to handle heavy pans in the kitchen? Do you find that you’ve injured yourself trying to accomplish daily tasks? Haven you fallen or injured yourself and have you hid or “explained” away the injury to others instead of being truthful about how it occurred.

Transportation:

Has driving become difficult, uncertain or scary? Have you had accidents or near accidents? Have you ever been confused about what to do at an intersection or felt overwhelmed by traffic? Has family or friends questioned your ability to drive safely?

Meal Preparation and Food Handling:

Are you losing or gaining a lot of weight or your weight fluctuates a lot? Are you eating healthy meals and snacks on a regular basis? Is your fridge empty, filled with junk food, or does it often contained food that has spoiled or expired? Do you forget to put food away or let dishes pile up in the sink? Does preparing meals or cleaning the kitchen feel overwhelming to you sometimes?

Interest in Daily Activities:

Have you lost interest in keeping your house clean or find that activities like dusting, laundry, vacuuming, or changing your bed linens drains you of energy? Are you ignoring or forgetting to balance bank statements or pay bills?. Do you find yourself being taken advantage of by telemarketers or tradesman selling services, such as lawn care, gutter cleaning, remodeling or maid service? Does life in general feel like it is frustrating, physically demanding, or time consuming?

Stimulation & Conversation:

Do you spend time with friends and get out of the house to visit with people? Have you stopped or reduced the frequency of going to church or other social events? Do you find yourself going to the post office just so you can have a conversation with someone? Do you often feel lonely or spend the majority of your time watching TV?

How’s Your Memory & Mood:

Have you been certain you have done or said something, only to find out lately that you had not? Have you experienced difficulty communicating your thoughts or words? Do you get anxious when you think about leaving the house or driving? Does life feel often feel like drudgery? Have you spent days in your bath robe or pajamas? Do you often think of just spending the day in bed? Have you forgotten to eat, bathe or brush your teeth or neglected these tasks because they just seemed unimportant? Have you left a pot burning on the stove?

Health and Medicines:

Do you frequently feel dizzy or light-headed? Has your appetite increased or decreased? Do you feel lethargic or over-stimulated? Are you feeling ill or achy, perhaps more stiff than usual? Sleeping longer or less than normal? Are you taking your medications as prescribed? Are you ever confused about which medications to take or how much to take? Are you having difficult reading or comprehending the labels? Do you know why you are taking certain medicines and how they may interact with other medications you are taking, including supplements you may take?

 If you see yourself in even one of the indicators here, it is time to seek help. However, knowing when to get help for seniors is a matter of steps. First, learn more about what is causing the situation and ways to overcome it. Sometimes the root of the problem is a medical condition and can be as simple as a change in mediation. Talk to your doctor! Let him or her know you are having difficulties and be detailed about what is going on, such as when and how often you are experiencing it. Also, after talking to your doctor, consider seeing a counselor. We all know that aging is normal and that there are physical changes that go along with it, but the mind is sometimes resistant to the idea or unwilling to process the information well. A counselor can help you with techniques to adjust to new found limitations or to overcome fears.

Lastly, be willing to accept and seek help with physical labor. Getting a friend or family member to drive you places, help you with shopping, laundry or cleaning can make a world of difference. Hiring a professional companion caregiver can also do wonders for your mood, your social opportunities, and assist you with housework, cooking, remembering to take medications and a variety of other tasks. Just make sure the person you bring into your home is employed by a reputable company so you can relax and allow yourself to live a comfortable, safe and happy life!

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