Dec 18, 2020

Recognise the warning signs in our older relatives this Christmas

As families draw closer to celebrating the festive season, a leading aged care and lifestyle care community pioneer says Christmas is the perfect opportunity to not only spend time with your ageing loved ones but monitor them in greater details.

Odyssey founder and CEO Phil Usher says as families congregate over the holidays in close quarters, a more accurate assessment of whether care needs for seniors needs to be considered.

“Over Christmas we have time off and can sit back and see things in a clearer light,” says Mr Usher.

“Extended time spent together gives us the opportunity to really check in with our ageing loved ones to see how they are going and how they have been living.

“This way, we can discover if care is something that needs to be in their immediate future.

“There may have been certain events and family get-togethers that have taken a back seat during the year, and this has sadly meant less time with our elderly loved ones.

“Knowing the signs to look for is key and having the opportunity to talk with key family decision makers, and potentially broach the topic with grandma or grandad is really important.

“The family has a duty of care to observe elderly loved ones, and if the signs are recognised and ignored, it can be very dangerous.”

Mr Usher says there are several key physical and psychological factors to look out for to assess whether care should be considered.

Image: Odyssey CEO Phil Usher with residents, supplied.
Image: Odyssey CEO Phil Usher with residents, supplied.

“Physical warning signs to watch for include holding on to furniture to steady themselves, not being able to see properly, needing help to sit, reluctancy to walk upstairs, or if they have lost weight,” says Mr Usher.

“It’s a good idea to compare how they are this Christmas to how they were physically last year.”

Psychological warning signs can be a little trickier to assess but Mr Usher suggests observing interactions with other family members to determine how the person is mentally.

“Observe if the ageing parent is actively engaged in conversation, do they have good short-term recall or are they repeating the same stories over and over again, and can they remember the names of close relatives,” says Mr Usher.

“Are they asking questions such as ‘how did you get here today?’ or ‘what’s today again?’.

Mr Usher says once you’ve made observations and if concerns are identified, it’s time to approach the key decision makers in the family, whilst together and discuss possible options.

“It’s vital that any warning signs aren’t ignored, or it can become dangerous for your elderly loved one,” says Mr Usher.

“Broaching the subject can be difficult, but it’s about having a gentle conversation and expressing your care as a family towards the ageing parent.

“Sometimes the need outweighs the potential awkwardness in opening up discussions like this.”

Image: Anchly, iStock.

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