People age so differently. It’s true, think about your own family. My father is in his late 60s and he’s more buff than my husband (I’ll have to apologize for that later). He takes going to the gym to a whole different level. He plays hockey, he runs every morning, and his reasoning for why people have so many aches and pains is, ‘if they went to the gym more…’ His philosophy, not mine, but it works for him.
His mother was a delicate-framed woman who went to church every single morning. You feared hugging her sometimes because she felt like you could break her in half, but she was a tough, compassionate nurse who raised 9 children and always had a fully cooked meal waiting for you should you stop by. And she always remembered your birthday with a sweet card and a few dollars in it until one day she didn’t. Was I the only one who thought that was strange?
My grandmother on my mother’s side was independent and strict on routine. She was also the matriarch of the family – she coordinated the holidays, her gifts were always done and wrapped in October with precise creases, and every meal felt like you were out at a restaurant – candles lit, perfectly folded napkins, and the aroma – eat your heart out, Martha. We didn’t worry about her …until she stopped going to her ceramics class and meeting friends for lunch, she even asked me to pick her up coffee cake muffins (she loved doing this), something seemed off-balance.
I compared them – my parents, grandparents, and even great-grandparents to how the rest of the world ages. Did we know when they needed in-home care? Looking back, I recall subtleties that make me wonder could I have done better – prevented this, helped them with that, gotten them help earlier? My biggest regret is my grandmother – the card. She forgot it. That was the first sign.
There were others I am sure but on my father’s side we didn’t see each other enough so the few subtle signs we each saw were left hanging, while my grandmother’s Alzheimer’s settled in. She started wandering and leaving the stove on. That’s when the siblings took turns sleeping at her house while balancing their own high school and college-aged families. They felt it was their duty to give back, then realized they needed more help when she escaped even when one of them was on guard.
For my other grandmother it was the slow progression of losing her eyesight to macular degeneration. She knew something was wrong but thought if she just stayed home she’d be fine, except no one was there to take her to the grocery store or cook. She wasn’t comfortable driving and once my mom and aunts finally broached the subject, my grandmother was relieved and felt good about the decision to build an apartment off my mother’s house so she could remain independent with getting help to go places. She was sad to leave her hometown of over 50 years but she felt she had no other choice.
Hindsight, some of these signs could have led to betters solution quicker. We couldn’t change the outcome whether it was the Alzheimer’s or the macular degeneration, but addressing the signs earlier on could have helped.
My grandmother with memory issues for example just wanted to get to church because it mattered to her. That’s where she was headed a few times they found her wandering because she couldn’t remember how to get there. A Homespire Life Care Manager (LCM) could have helped with that, creating a schedule and coordinating support to walk her to church each morning. Or for my other gram, she needed someone to drive her and help around the house. Maybe moving right away wasn’t the best option. Maybe getting a homemaker or caregiver a few times a week would have been sufficient.
Sometimes all you need is a trusted expert to reach out to, share options that work for each situation, and connect you with resources in the community to help your older loved ones age in place wherever home is. Either way, it all started with the signs or that ‘feeling’ something was off balance.
Not every senior’s forgetfulness means Alzheimer’s just as not every senior’s aches and pains can be attributed to not going to the gym. But many of these subtleties once recognized and acknowledged, can lead to prevention. That’s really the point of downloading guides like ‘Signs That Your Loved One Needs Help.’ It’s about getting the help now, knowing the small signs, before the crisis hits. And it will in time if you let the little issues linger.
Every person ages differently – sometimes the signs for one can be vastly different from another family member. The aging experience is so unique. Let’s help them age magnificently for as long as possible.
We want to know, what were the signs that told you your loved one needed support? What did you do? Share on so we can learn from your experience….