When aging parents begin to show signs of decline, you want to keep them safe. A little extra help may be all they need. But first, you must decide if the issue is mental or physical.
When you suspect mild cognitive impairment, simple fixes such as medical alerts or security cameras may be enough to keep them safe. In some cases, more is needed.
Occasional word loss is usually benign, and misplacing keys happens to everyone. But difficulty forming sentences, confusion, going out and getting lost, or forgetting to turn off the stove are signs you shouldn’t ignore, especially if the onset of symptoms was sudden.
A professional mental status assessment will tell you if a regular drop-in visitor is a sufficient solution or assisted living or constant care is required.
If mobility is impaired, it could be due to poor balance, loss of flexibility, or impaired ambulation. Bathroom grab bars and a bath seat may be sufficient. Walking sticks, a cane, or a walker may prevent falls. Help with dressing or simple dressing aids such as sock stretchers and elastic shoelaces are often helpful. Replacing buttons and zippers with Velcro may do the trick.
When you’re unsure, get professional help. Have an occupational therapist or Certified Aging-in-Place Specialist (CAPS) assess activities of daily living and address any safety and medical concerns.
Check with Medicaid for financial aid for long-term care. Speak with community care services, the Alzheimer’s Association (https://www.alz.org), seniors associations, local hospitals, and visiting nurse associations. These services can help you make the best choices to keep your parents safe.