Are you ‘functionally blind’ when it comes to eldercare?

With the Holidays now upon us, chances are that you will be visiting elderly family members or they will visit you. With the Holiday visits, you have some unique opportunities for fellowship and checking up on things.


Are you unable to see the forest for the trees when it comes to dealing with the care needs of your elderly family members? Image courtesy of: gregor H

Many times you may not see the forest for the trees. You are so glad to see the elderly, you may overlook some of the signs that they need some extra help. I know from personal experiences how there is something inside where you want to think the best and may be functionally blind when it comes to seeing areas where the elderly need help.

For this reason, I’ve put together a checklist of things to look for.

  • Have they lost weight or seem more frail?
  • Is there more shakiness or trembling when they hold things?
  • Do they have trouble cutting up their food and feeding themselves?
  • Do they have trouble having normal conversations?
  • Do they continue repeating themselves in strange ways?
  • Are they obsessing at times when talking?
  • Are they oriented to day, time and place?
  • Do you notice any strange new behaviors like repeating stories or being unusually confused about simple things?
  • Are they squinting or tripping over things much more than usual?
  • Do they have trouble hearing low or high pitched sounds?
  • Are they unsteady when they walk?
  • Are they clean both in terms of their bodies and their clothing?

If you notice unusual patterns with these items, its’ a sign they need more help.

There’s no need to panic. Although they need help, that doesn’t mean that you are automatically ‘on the hook’ to be the provider of that help. There may be community resources that could help with whatever problems you notice.

In the Family Caregiver Summit, the interview with Marty Dare covers how local resources like healthcare alliances can help with such situations. Knowing what is available in the community where your elderly family member lives is a key next step in getting them taken care of. After you notice problems, knowing where to get the assistance you need is important.

It could be that there are many support groups and resources in the area where they live that just have not been used yet.

Here’s to a Happy, Healthy Holiday,

Best Wishes,

Jeff