Warning Signs an Older Family Member May Need Help

March 1, 2018

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(This article first appeared in the March-April 2018 issue of the American Postal Worker magazine)

By Retirees Director Nancy Olumekor 

Changes in physical and mental abilities that may occur with age can be difficult to detect. Any one of the following behaviors may indicate the need to take action. It is also important to inform their physician of these physical or psychological behavior changes.*

Has Your Loved One:

  • Changed eating habits – resulting in losing weight, having no appetite, or missing meals?
  • Neglected personal hygiene – including wearing dirty clothes and having body odor, bad breath, neglected nails and teeth, or sores on the skin?
  • Neglected their home – with a noticeable change in cleanliness and sanitation?
  • Exhibited inappropriate behavior – such as being unusually loud, quiet, paranoid, or agitated, or making phone calls at all hours?
  • Changed relationship patterns – causing friends and neighbors to express concerns?
  • Had physical problems – such as burns or injury marks, which may result from general weakness, forgetfulness, or misuse of alcohol or prescribed medications?
  • Decreased or stopped participating in activities that were once important to them – such as bridge or a book club, dining with friends, or attending religious services?
  • Exhibited forgetfulness – resulting in unopened mail, piling of newspapers, not filling their prescriptions, or missing appointments?
  • Mishandled finances – such as not paying bills, losing money, paying bills twice or more, or hiding money?
  • Made unusual purchases – such as buying more than one subscription to the same magazine, entering an unusually large number of contests, or increasing purchases from television advertisements?

Get connected with information on local aging resources that offer assistance for aging in place, enabling older adults to continue living independently in their homes and communities. Contact the Eldercare Locator at 800-677-1116 or eldercare.gov

*Source: Administration for Community Living, DHHS, fact sheet.

The ER Can Often Be a Tipping Point for Seniors

Kaiser Health News (1/11, Graham) reports that an elderly person’s visit to the ER “often signals a serious health challenge and should serve as a wake-up call for caregivers and relatives.” Researchers have found that seniors are 14 percent more likely to acquire a disability within six months of visiting an ER.

The article adds that the American College of Emergency Physicians (ACEP) launched an accreditation program for ERs in February that will certify “at least a minimal level of geriatric competence.” Dr. Kevin Biese, chair of the board of governors for ACEP’s initiative, offered a recommendation, advising, “Ask for a room, instead of letting your loved one stay out in the hallway – a horrible place for seniors at risk of delirium."

Make a Difference

According to the Administration for Community Living, older Americans are one of the fastest growing demographics in the country. By 2020, there will be more than 77 million people over the age of 60.

Seniors have worked too long and hard to reach retirement, to then have the benefits they have earned put at risk by insensitive politicians. The 2018 elections at every level of government are vitally important to all of us. This year, your participation will make a difference in the outcome of these elections. We can use our experience and our voting strength to achieve the outcome necessary to protect our hard-earned benefits that we deserve to enjoy in retirement. Are you ready to continue to Fight Today for A Better Tomorrow?

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