The holidays provide opportunities to assess the need for assistance
Sometimes the changes that come with aging happen so slowly, they are hard to notice. Other times, they are triggered quickly due to a health issue or emergency. The experts at JGS Lifecare in Longmeadow urge family and friends of the elderly to take some time over the holidays to assess if they are handling the activities of daily living in a safe and healthy way.
“The holidays are a good time to devote some extra attention to elderly loved ones,” said Susan Kimball Halpern, vice president of philanthropy, JGS Lifecare. “Whether it’s your parents, grandparents or even a friend or neighbor, there are warning signs you can look for that may indicate they are struggling with day-to-day care.”
Signs of a problem
Halpern noted that signs of a problem may include:
- Poor personal hygiene including unpleasant odors, lack of grooming, dirty and stained clothes
- A cluttered, dirty home and things like stains on furniture and rugs, stacks of unopened mail, unemptied trash and bad smells
- Forgetfulness or confusion when performing familiar tasks
- Lack of energy or interest in former hobbies and activities
- Missing appointments, late payment notices, calls from bill collectors, utilities shut off
- Forgetting or confusion about medications
- Trouble getting up from a chair or bed
- Unsteadiness when walking or standing
- Poor diet and weight loss
- Spoiled food or an empty refrigerator
- Unexplained bruising or injuries
- Frequent illness or infection
- Unexplained damage to the home or auto
Types of assistance
“If you think your loved one may be struggling with activities of daily living due to age, dementia or illness, several options exist to get them the help they need to remain safe and healthy,” said Halpern.
Seniors may qualify for in-home nursing or home-making assistance through agencies like Spectrum Home Health & Hospice, a service of JGS Lifecare. “Sometimes having someone come in once a day or a few times a week to help with medication management, bathing and dressing, light housekeeping and errands can make a world of difference,” said Halpern.
Adult day care may be another option. “Many of our clients have family or friends who are available to help with their care on nights and weekends, but not during normal workday hours,” said Halpern. “That’s where a service like our Wernick Adult Day Health Care can help. Participants spend time with their peers engaging in a variety of activities, enjoy healthy meals and snacks, and receive assistance with personal care and medications before returning home at the end of the day.”
An assisted living facility, like Ruth’s House at JGS Lifecare, allows seniors to retain much of their independence while also providing a greater level of assistance than they can receive in their homes. Residents have their own apartments, but come together for meals, activities and excursions, and receive support with their activities of daily living, including dressing, bathing, grooming, and medication. Short-term respite stays are also available, subject to availability.
When even more care is required, a nursing home, such as the Leavitt Family Jewish Home on the JGS Lifecare campus, may be the answer. Residents benefit from full time care by nurses, rehabilitation specialists and other health care professionals, as well as assistance with all aspects of daily living. Short-term respite care is available here as well.
“Many people are surprised to learn that even in our nursing home, most of our rooms are private, although we offer shared rooms as well,” said Halpern. “Sosin Center for Rehabilitation is the first Green-House-certified nursing and rehabilitation facility in western Massachusetts, offering physical, occupational and speech therapy in a warm, personal setting that’s designed to feel like a home, and a focus on helping each resident direct his or her own care.”
Halpern continued, “At JGS Lifecare, we don’t just look at the physical needs of our clients, but at their spiritual and emotional health as well. Across our service lines, our clients enjoy many opportunities for socialization and activities through our Life Enrichment program, as well as access to spiritual services for any denomination.”
She noted, “Starting these conversations can be difficult for families, but at the end of the day, we all want to make sure our elderly loved ones are safe, cared for and able to enjoy their lives to the best and fullest extent possible.”