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Assisted Living & Other Resources


At United Energy Workers Healthcare, our mission is to provide the best home health care available for those who are covered under the EEOICPA and RECA congressional legislation, which by and large qualifies many former energy workers as beneficiaries of free healthcare. For those family members of qualifying EEOCIPA/RECA beneficiaries and for those searching for resources for their elderly relative, we have compiled a few resources which you can use to evaluate the need for assisted living or other elderly healthcare-related issues.

Big Signs That it Might Be Time for Assisted Living

For the majority people, it is difficult to admit that they need some help managing their day-to-day life. If you believe that your elderly parent or vulnerable loved one needs assisted living, it is normal for them to put up some resistance. That being said, assisted living is often the best option to keep an elderly or vulnerable person safe. In some cases, assisted living becomes all but necessary. Here, we highlight the four big signs that you should watch for that indicate that it is the right time to begin considering assisted living.

Sign #1: Recent Accidents Or Close Calls

You should always watch out for an increased amount of accidents or “close-calls”. Examples of this may include your loved one being injured in a fall, accidentally leaving the oven on, or having any type of medical scare. More frequent accidents or close calls is definitely an indicator that it is time to think about assisted living. Of course, accidents can happen to anyone at any age, but when accidents seem to be happening at an increased rate, or accidents tend to be unusual in nature, it may be time to intervene to protect the health and safety of your loved one.

Watch Out For Fall Accidents

Falls represent one of the most frequent and serious types of accidents that disproportionately impact older adults. In fact, according to data provided by the National Council on Aging (NCOA), fall accidents are the single leading cause of fatal injuries in older adults, and they are one of the most common reasons why elderly people are admitted into emergency rooms.

NCOA finds that one in four people over the age of 65 are injured in fall accidents each year. Notably, the organization also finds that once a person starts ‘falling’, it usually only gets worse from there. As such, if your elderly parent or vulnerable loved one has been the victim of a string of fall accidents, that is a clear sign that it is time for assisted living.There are many different fall hazards within an ordinary home. From steps to stairs to wet floors to random debris, the number of hazards is virtually endless. In some cases, people are even known to trip and fall on their own pets. When fall accidents occur to an older adult, the consequences can be truly severe. Not only are older adults more likely to be a victim of a fall accident, but they are also far more susceptible to very serious injuries, including broken bones.

Keep An Eye On The Kitchen

Beyond fall accidents, kitchen-related injuries are among the leading reasons why older adults are forced to seek emergency medical care. Preparing and eating food has the potential to be very dangerous. In the kitchen, there can be sharp objects, open flames, and scalding liquids. These things must always be handled with proper attention and extreme care. As your loved one ages, you may notice that they are having more trouble in the kitchen. It could anything from a couple of minor burn injuries to them leaving the oven on. Regardless, if you an uptick in kitchen-related accidents, or near accidents, that is a sign that assisted living should be considered.

Close Calls Should Be Taken Seriously

Finally, it is important to remember that you should always pay attention to the accidents that did not actually happen. Too many people simply ignore the close calls and do not take them as the warning signs that they are. The bottom line is simple: All close calls must always be taken seriously. While you can take comfort in the fact that your loved one was able to avoid a severe injury, you cannot become complacent. Near-miss accidents should be viewed as a sign that it is time to consider assisted living.

Sign #2: A Slow Recovery

We all know that it can take longer to recover from injuries and illnesses takes as we age, and it is hard to mend quickly when different parts of the body are aging. If your vulnerable loved one is taking significantly longer to recover from ailments, whether it is a bruised knee or the flu, you should take that as a major warning sign. Slow recovery is a strong indicator that it is time to consider assisted living.

As we age, our ability to bounce back from a physical injury or an illness diminishes. If you are in your thirties, forties or fifties, you likely know this fact all too well. You probably do not have quite the same ability to recover as you did when you were twenty years old. Still, when you come down with a cold, you have confidence that you will get better. It may take an extra day or two, but with proper rest and fluids, your body will heal itself.For elderly and physically vulnerable adults, that is not always the case. That extra day that you need when you are in your forties becomes an extra week or an extra month. When a person’s ability to recover from an injury or illness has declined dramatically, they need help. Slow physical recovery is one of the biggest signs that a person needs assisted living.

Slow Recovery Is Dangerous

At the current time, medical scientists do not know exactly why physical recovery slows down so much as people age.There are a number of different theories, from an elevated inflammatory response to cell exhaustion to changes in hormones. While the precise mechanisms are not known, it is clear that a slow recovery is a surefire sign that help is needed.This is because slow recovery is dangerous. A person in a weakened state is at high risk of contracting another condition from which they will not be able to recover. Consider a relatively common illness like the flu. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that the vast majority of adults who are hospitalized for flu-like symptoms are over the age of 65. Sadly, not all of them make it out of the hospital.

Early Attention Is Critically Important

Many people try to fight illnesses and injuries on their own. When it comes to elderly adults, this is somewhat concerning. In their younger years, your older parent or relative could no doubt get through a cold or the flu without medical attention. They may still have that spirit inside of them, and they may be reluctant to seek help now. The problem is that avoiding treatment is dangerous. In far too many cases, vulnerable older adults try to “tough out” illnesses and injuries, causing damage to themselves in the process. One of the biggest benefits of assisted living is that a professional will be able to identify the signs of an illness or a deteriorating medical condition as early as possible. With early attention comes rapid response, and the best chance to ensure that your loved one makes a full recovery.

With Assisted Care, Recovery Time Can Improve

Beyond early identification of illness and injury, assisted living also ensures that your loved one is receiving the proper ongoing medical attention. In some cases, they need to be admitted to the hospital or even the emergency room for assistance. In other cases, they may just need someone to help them while they are bedridden for a couple of weeks. Regardless, an older adult who is having difficulty recovering from illnesses and injuries needs assisted living.

Sign #3: A Chronic Health Condition That Is Worsening

If a chronic health condition is showing signs of getting worse, it is time to consider seeking assisted care for the affected person. Some of the common chronic conditions that are known to degenerate as time goes on include:

  • Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD);
  • Asthma and other lung conditions;
  • Dementia and Alzheimer’s;
  • Heart disease;
  • Cancer;
  • Type 2 diabetes;
  • Arthritis;
  • ALS (Lou Gehrig’s Disease);
  • Cystic fibrosis; and
  • Osteoporosis.

Chronic health conditions are common among older adults in the United States. According to the National Council on Aging (NCOA), nearly 80 percent of people over the age of 65 have at least one chronic disease or medical condition. Sixty-eight percent of older Americans have two or more chronic medical conditions. These chronic conditions vary widely, both in kind and in their level severity. While some chronic conditions require round-the-clock treatment, others can be attended to with self-care.

Though, most chronic conditions run the risk of getting worse. Indeed, your loved one may be able to live on their own with a chronic condition for years or even decades, but there may come a point when the stresses of the condition make true independent living extremely difficult, if not impossible. This is why healthcare industry experts note that a chronic health condition that is getting worse should be viewed as one of the big warning signs that a person needs assisted living.

Chronic Health Conditions Come In Many Different Forms

One of the things that make chronic health conditions difficult to assess is that they can come in so many different forms. To make matters even more complex, often a patient will have two or more different overlapping health issues. These conditions can interact with each other in complex, individual ways. The good news is that assisted care also comes in many different forms. As such, no matter your vulnerable loved one’s specific medical condition, there is help available that will be well-suited for their needs.

Assess The Development Of The Chronic Condition

With chronic health conditions, it is imperative that you keep a close eye on the severity and timeline of the disease or disorder. In many cases, these types of conditions can deteriorate very rapidly. As such, it is imperative that you closely monitor developments in the condition. Should things get worse, you need to be prepared to take immediate action to address the problem. Remember, it is always better to be safe rather than sorry. When a chronic health condition begins to make a negative turn, you should, at the very least, have the conversation about assisted living.

Consult With A Doctor Or Medical Professional

If your elderly parent of vulnerable loved one has a chronic health condition, and you believe that it might be time for them to get assisted care, you should consult their doctor. Their doctor will be able to help you understand their condition(s), as well as their likely future prognosis. With this information in hand, you will be fully equipped to take action. There are many types of assisted living care available, and you will have the tools needed to help them get the specific type of assistive care that is truly best for their individual needs.

Sign #4: Increasing Difficulty Managing The Activities Of Daily Living (ADLs) And Instrumental Activities Of Daily Living (IADLs)

Finally, you should always keep a close eye on how your elderly or vulnerable loved one does performing activities of daily living (ADLs) and instrumental activities of daily living (IADLs). If your loved one can no longer perform these tasks effectively, it might be the right time for assisted living. ADLs are activities that all people do on a day-to-day basis. These are the most basic functions of self-care, including things like eating, getting dressed, bathing and using the bathroom. If your loved one is struggling with ADLs, it is a sure sign that it is time to look into your assisted living options. IADLs refer to second-level activities that are necessary for true independent living. Some of the most common examples of IADLS include things like shopping, cooking, laundry and basic housework. If your loved one is starting to struggle with certain IADLs, the time for assisted living is fast approaching

In the 1950s an Ohio-based medical doctor named Sidney Katz proposed a new concept that redefined how we think about chronic illnesses and long-term care. With his team of researchers at the Benjamin Rose Hospital, Mr. Katz coined the term ‘activities of daily living’ or ‘ADLs’. In recent years, the concept of ADLs has become critically important in the healthcare industry. By assessing ADLs and the related IADLS (instrumental activities of daily living), healthcare professionals and ordinary people are now better able to assess whether or not an elderly or vulnerable person is capable of healthy independent living.

What are Activities of Daily Living (ADLs)?

Activities of daily living are the most basic tasks that a person must be able to perform to be capable of living on their own. One way to think about ADLs is that they are all of the core things that the average person does in the morning, before they are ready to go out the door and start the day. If a person cannot perform ADLs, it means that they have trouble with basic functional tasks. They certainly cannot live a healthy, happy lifestyle all alone, and they may not be able to survive at all. ADLs fit into six basic categories:

  1. Bathing and showering;
  2. Personal hygiene;
  3. Ability to get dressed;
  4. Ability to use the restroom (toileting)
  5. Basic mobility; and
  6. Eating.

If your elderly parent or vulnerable loved one cannot perform all six of those tasks without assistance, then they are not currently capable of healthy independent living. You are past the point where assisted living needs to be considered, and at the point where action needs to be taken. Even if your loved one is only struggling with a single ADL, you owe it to them to help them assess all of their available assisted living options.

What are Instrumental Activities of Daily Living (IADLs)?

You may have noticed that ADLs are all very basic tasks. They are considered to be first-level tasks, meaning there are the things that a person must be able to do to be able to live even a semi-healthy lifestyle on their own. Of course, there is more to living than those basic tasks. There are many other secondary tasks that must be performed. These types of tasks are referred to as instrumental activities of daily living or IADLs. While IADLS are not always necessary for independent living, the inability to perform them is a strong indicator that help is needed. Some examples of IADLs include:

  • Driving and the ability to move around town;
  • Housework and home maintenance;
  • Grocery shopping and cooking;
  • Money management;
  • Medication management; and
  • Ability to use the phone or computer.

If your loved one is struggling with IADLs, they will likely need some assistance. In some cases, a family member may be able to provide that assistance. For example, your elderly parent may be able to do everything except mow their lawn. In that case, someone can easily step in and complete that task. Not much needs to change in their overall living arrangement. Though, once your loved one begins to lose the ability to perform additional IADLs, it is time to have the conversation about assisted living.

Be Proactive: Watch for the Signs that Indicate Your Loved One Needs Assisted Living

Making a decision about assisted living is never easy. This is no doubt a sensitive time for you and your family members. Remember that the best thing you can do to protect the health and wellbeing of your loved one is to be proactive. Assisted living is the best available option for many people. You should always be sure to regularly check-in on your elderly and vulnerable loved ones to make sure that they are doing well in their current environment. Keep your eye on the big four signs that suggest it is time for assisted living. When you notice any changes or problems, be ready to review the situation and taken action. If you believe that it is the right time for assisted living, there are many different options available to you and your family. Do hesitate to contact a professional home health care agency or medical doctor to get advice regarding your loved one’s specific condition.

Physical Signs That it Might Be Time for Assisted Living

Caring for an elderly parent or relative can take a toll on any family. While it can be a difficult decision to seek assisted living services, doing so is the best available choice for many different people. All families should keep a close eye on their most vulnerable loved ones. The signs that suggest that it is time to consider assisted living are not always easy to see from a distance.
At United Energy Workers Healthcare, we are proud to provide top-quality services to the beneficiaries of the Energy Employees Occupational Illness Compensation Program (EEOICPA) and the Radiation Exposure Compensation Act (RECA). We want to make sure that families all across the country have the right tools to determine whether or not it is time to consider assisted living for their loved one. In this guide, we highlight the top five physical signs that indicate that it is time to consider looking into your options for assisted living.

1. Noticeable Weight Loss

If your elderly relative or vulnerable loved one has lost a noticeable amount of weight, you need to have a conversation with them immediately. Of course, losing weight is not inherently unhealthy. In fact, it is often quite the contrary; in many cases losing weight is simply following the doctor’s orders. However, it can also be a major sign that assisted care is needed. When assessing whether or not your loved one’s weight loss is actually a problem, you should try to find answers to the following three questions:

  • Is the weight loss related to an underlying medical condition?
  • Is your loved one now at an unhealthy weight?
  • Did your loved one lose weight unintentionally?

If the answer to any of these three questions is “yes”, then there is a problem. You need to follow up on the issue and make sure that your loved one is getting the care and support that they need to live a healthy lifestyle.

As a group, Americans are trying hard to lose weight. According to a report from CBS News, we collectively spend more than $35 billion per year on weight loss products. When people purchase these products, they want results. Of course, noticeable weight loss is not a celebration for everyone. While weight loss is a desired goal for many people, for elderly and vulnerable people it can be an indicator that they are having trouble caring for themselves, or even that they have a serious underlying health problem.In older adults, especially people who are over the age of 70, unintentional weight loss is considered one of the biggest sign that assisted living care is required. At United Energy Workers Healthcare, we want to make sure that everyone who needs assisted care is able to get it. Our home healthcare experts know the dangers of unintentional or unexplained weight loss. It is associated with a reduction in quality of life, the loss of ability to function independently, and even an increased risk of accidents.

1. The Weight Loss is Related to a Medical Condition

In some cases, weight loss occurs as a direct result of an underlying medical condition. This may be a medical condition that has already been diagnosed and is now worsening, or it may be an entirely new condition. If your loved one has lost a noticeable amount of weight, they need to get a comprehensive medical evaluation from a qualified doctor. If a health condition is the cause of the weight loss, then your loved one likely needs to seek treatment, and they may need long-term assistance. There is a possibility that their condition will continue to worsen.

2. The Weight Loss Was Unintentional or is Still Unexplained

If your elderly loved one is starting to lose weight, the very first thing you should do is ask them if they are trying to lose weight. If they are not trying to lose weight, or if they were completely unaware of the fact that they were losing weight, then you will likely need to take further action. At the very least, you need to closely monitor the issue. Though, you should also follow up on the issue so that you can determine the cause of the weight loss.

3. The Weight Loss Was Caused By Poor Nutrition

Sometimes, older adults lose weight because their nutrition is poor. Most people associate poor nutrition with weight gain, but the reverse is possible as well. If this is the case with your loved one, it may be time to look for some help with meal planning, shopping for grocery, and meal preparation. One of the big advantages of assisted living is that there are many different home health care options available. Some people only need assisted care with certain tasks like cooking or shopping.

4. Your Loved One is Now at an Unhealthy Weight

Finally, you should always monitor your loved one’s overall weight and the basic amount of muscle mass that they have. If your loved one has dropped to an unhealthy weight, especially if due to loss of muscle mass, then you need to take action. You should consult with medical and nutrition professionals and determine exactly what needs to be done to ensure that you can give your loved one the best possible care.

How Can Assisted Living Help With Weight Loss?

Typically, weight loss in older adults is caused by a combination of many different factors, with the most prominent being malnutrition, poor lifestyle, and underlying medical problems. The fundamental key to fixing unexplained weight loss is identifying the exact cause of the problem. From there, you will be able to assess the issue and determine how to provide the appropriate treatment. This is where a qualified home healthcare professional can be extremely helpful. Some of the specific things that a home healthcare professional may be able to do for your loved one include:

    1. Providing access to better quality food along with managing meals;
    2. Identifying and facilitating treatment for dental or oral issues;
    3. Helping to get food that is easier to chew and swallow;
    4. Helping with psychological issues that lead to appetite loss; and
    5. Creating a better (less sedentary) lifestyle that promotes muscle health and a better appetite.

The bottom line is clear: If your aging parent or vulnerable loved one is losing weight at an unusual or alarming rate, then you need to seek professional assistance. Something is wrong, and you need to figure out the problem as soon as possible.

2. Seeming Frailer

Is your loved one getting frailer? If so, it may be time to help them explore their assisted living options. In some cases, assessing whether or not a person is frail can be somewhat difficult. Medical professionals often use frail as an acronym (F.R.A.I.L.) to better decipher the issue:

  • Fatigue: If a person gets tired out very quickly from physical tasks, they may be frail. When fatigue starts to worsen, it is time to consider taking action.
  • Resistance: Another good thing to consider is resistance. More specifically, you should ask your loved one to grip your hand. A very weak grip is a strong indicator that a person is in a vulnerable physical state.
  • Ambulation: Ambulation is the ability to move (by walking) without difficulty. Difficulty walking suggests frailty.
  • Illness: A person who is highly susceptible to getting sick is a person who may be frail.
  • Loss of weight: Losing weight without trying is consistent with aging and increasing frailty.

Is your elderly loved one looking more vulnerable these days? Do they seem to have less overall strength? Are they suddenly having more difficulty standing up or moving around? If so, it may be time to consider all of their available assisted living options. When a person begins to look increasingly frail, they may need some help managing their activities of daily living (ADLs) or instrumental activities of daily living (IADLs).At United Energy Workers Healthcare, we are proud to be national leaders in the home healthcare industry. Our professionals have a deep understanding of all aspects of home health care, including when to start looking into assisted living and how to find the best available assisted living options. If your elderly parent or relative is starting to look frailer or you see other signs that it might be time for assisted living, it may be time to take action to protect their health and safety.

How To Tell If Your Family Member Is Frail?

The term ‘frail’ is defined as being “weak or delicate”. Of course, those are both relatively broad and vague terms. Applying that general definition to your loved one’s actual condition can be somewhat challenging. To help clarify this issue, some medical researchers use a basic assessment test to assess whether or not their patients are frail. The test goes by the acronym F.R.A.I.L. and it has five factors.

1. Fatigue

In assessing your loved one’s frailty, you can start by considering how quickly they become fatigued. If relatively simple day-to-day tasks are beginning to make them physically or mentally exhausted, then it may be time to look into home health care. Your loved one could benefit tremendously from getting assistance with certain everyday tasks.

2. Resistance

Medical professionals often conduct ‘resistance tests’ on their elderly or vulnerable patients. You can easily conduct a basic resistance test on your loved one. To do so, simply ask them to grip your hand as hard as they can. If your loved one has very poor grip strength, or if they are losing their grip strength, that is a strong indicator that they are becoming frail.

3. Ambulation

Medical professionals also often conduct ambulatory tests on their patients. In the most simple terms, ambulation is the ability to move about from one place to another, generally by walking. To conduct an ambulatory test on your loved one, simply ask them to walk 15 feet. As they complete the test, be sure to time their performance. If their ability to walk 15 feet is well below normal, they likely need to seek assisted care.

4. Illnesses

If your loved one gets sick frequently, that is a sign of frailty. Additionally, when they do get sick, you need to keep a close watch on their recovery time. One of the biggest signs that assisted living care is required is a slow recovery. While we all get sick sometimes, when people lose their ability to bounce back, they need someone by their side who can help protect them.

5. Loss of Weight

Finally, you need to keep an eye on your loved one’s weight. It is a good idea to have them record their weight at regular intervals so that you do not have to guess at how much they weigh. If you are just eyeballing their weight, you may not notice the weight loss until it has become a serious problem. Any unexplained or unintentional loss of 10 or more pounds should be taken as a possible sign of either frailty or another underlying medical condition. If your loved one has started dropping weight for seemingly no reason, they likely need help with their nutritional intake.

How Can A Home Healthcare Agency Help

Someone who is frail is someone who is at high risk of suffering an injury or developing a severe health condition. Further, a frail person is someone who will struggle to perform basic day-to-day tasks on their own. Beyond being at high risk of suffering a physical ailment, a frail person’s life will be a struggle if they are left on their own. Additionally, they may require frequent assistance from their family members. Of course, helpful family members are not always in a position to provide immediate help. This can be deeply frustrating and downright depressing for people. Simply put, it is not a high quality of life. Your loved one deserves a better quality of care. By seeking assisted living or other types of home healthcare, you can protect your loved one’s safety and ensure that they live the best possible life.

3. Noticeable Weight Gain

Noticeable weight gain can also be a sign that your loved one needs to seek assisted care. Similar to losing weight, if your loved one is gaining weight, you need to have a conversation with them about the issue. In many cases, weight gain is the result of poor diet or the lack of a healthy lifestyle. Your loved one may need some assistance with preparing their meals. Additionally, weight gain can also be the result of an underlying medical condition.

Stepping on the scale only to learn that you have gained a few extra pounds can be deeply frustrating. Though, for healthy people and non-senior citizens, a couple of extra pounds here and there is generally not a cause for any real concern. However, for vulnerable people, noticeable weight gain often indicates that there is a serious underlying problem. Indeed, many reliable studies, including some published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA), have found that obesity is closely associated with adverse medical outcomes in older patients. When an older adult experiences a significant weight gain, their ability to bounce back from an illness or medical condition can be severely hampered.A sudden rise in weight should always be taken as cause for concern. In older adults, particularly senior citizens, weight gain is considered one of the big five physical signs that it might be time for assisted living. At United Energy Workers Healthcare, our top-rated home healthcare professionals want to make sure that every family has the tools and knowledge to help their most vulnerable loved ones. If your elderly parent or elderly relative has gained a substantial amount of weight in recent months, you owe it to them to follow up on the issue to make sure that their well-being is protected.

Significant Weight Gain Can Be A Major Health Problem

It is a harsh reality for some, but significant weight gain is frequently a serious health problem. Through extensive research, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has determined that being obese or substantially overweight is strongly associated with many adverse health outcomes. Further, rapid weight gain can lead to a considerable reduction in a person’s quality of life. It can result in a person being fatigued far more easily, and it can lead to people losing their mobility and even their ability to function independently.

How Assisted Living Services Can Help

As we age, it becomes more important that we are able to maintain optimal health. Yet, in practice, living a healthy lifestyle can be incredibly challenging. In many cases, weight gain occurs because a person’s nutrition slowly gets worse and their lifestyle gradually becomes more sedentary. It is not uncommon for this to become an issue after a surgery or other major health condition. To make this issue even more challenging, once a person adds weight, it can become even more difficult to take it off. Weight gain can be a vicious and dangerous cycle for older adults. The good news is that this is an area where assisted living can be extremely helpful.

1. Promoting Healthy Nutrition

First and foremost, an experienced home healthcare professional can help your loved one with their nutritional needs. This includes everything from meal planning to shopping to meal preparation. In many cases, older Americans lose their ability to maintain a healthy diet simply because they are no longer able to access and cook the healthy food that they use to eat. A home healthcare professional will make sure that your loved one gets proper nutrition, offering them food in a form that they will actually eat and enjoy.

2. Facilitating a More Active Lifestyle

As we age, it becomes more and more difficult to stay active. Not only is more rest and recovery time needed after participating in physical activity, but some of your loved one’s favorite hobbies may no longer be suitable for their condition. This can create a cycle whereby a person starts to lose interest in physical activity altogether. With assisted living, your loved one will be able to adjust back to a less sedentary, more healthy lifestyle. This should be done in a gradual and safe manner, as it will limit the risk of injury and help them drop pounds at a healthy pace.

3. Ensuring that All Health Needs are Met

Finally, weight gain can sometimes occur (at least partially) as the result of an underlying medical condition. A qualified home healthcare professional will be able to evaluate your loved one and make sure that they are receiving the proper care that they deserve. In some cases, a relatively simple dental or stomach issue may be causing your loved one to eat an unhealthy diet. In other cases, the underlying health problem may be far more severe. Regardless of the specific issue, working with a home healthcare professional will allow you to rest much easier. You will be able to know that medical professionals are standing by to give your vulnerable family member the appropriate treatment.

4. Strange Body Odor

If your loved one has developed a strange or unpleasant body odor, that should always be taken as a sign that there is a problem. With very limited exceptions, a strange body odor indicates poor hygiene or a serious underlying medical condition. Discussing issues of hygiene can be embarrassing. These conversations always require the utmost level of sensitivity. Still, it is something that needs to be addressed to ensure that your loved one’s health and well-being are fully protected.

At United Energy Workers Healthcare, our top-rated home healthcare professionals want to make sure that you have the tools and knowledge required to best serve your vulnerable family member. Not only do you want to protect their safety, but you want to make sure that they can live the best, most fulfilling life possible in their later years. If you are noticing a strange or unpleasant body odor, they need help. It may be time to help your loved one look into their options for assisted living.

Why a Strange Body Odor May Be the Sign of a Problem

In cases involving older adults, the emergence of a strange or bad body odor, especially when that was never a problem before, should be taken as a sign that there is a serious problem. Your loved one may be struggling to care for themselves. In the very worst cases, your family member could have a serious underlying medical condition. This may either be a chronic condition that is starting get worse, or it could be an undiagnosed medical disorder. Regardless, if there is any type of medical problem or potential medical problem, you need to make sure that they get immediate attention so that they can get the quality treatment that they deserve.

It should be noted that in many cases, strange or unpleasant body odor does not immediately indicate the result of a medical issue. It is far more likely that your loved one is having difficulty with their hygiene. In certain cases, your family member may be having trouble with some of the basic activities of daily living (ADLs). These activities could include:

  • Showering;
  • Bathing;
  • Grooming; and
  • Using the toilet.

If your loved one is struggling with any hygiene-related ADLs, it is time to get them some assistance. Healthy independent living is not possible for people who are unable to perform ADLs. There are also cases in which bad or strange odor occurs as a result of a person’s inability to perform certain instrumental activities of daily living (IADLs). IADLs are secondary tasks that are still a very important part of functional independent living. Some examples of IADLs that are relevant to hygiene include:

  • Shopping for appropriate hygiene products;
  • Remembering to groom;
  • Ability to do laundry; and
  • Ability to perform basic housework.

How to Talk About Poor Hygiene

Bringing up the issue of hygiene with an elderly parent or relative can be extremely challenging. It is important to understand that this can be embarrassing for all parties, and thus, the utmost sensitivity is always required when addressing this issue. Still, despite how uncomfortable the topic can be, it is important that you have a conversation about the problem. When doing so, some of the most important tips that you should keep in mind include:

  • Be sure to approach the topic with sensitivity so that you do not patronize your loved one;
  • Be ready to explain the precise issue that raised your concern so that your loved one knows where you are coming from; and
  • Be prepared to offer to help them find a real solution.

If you are not ready to assist your loved one in finding a solution to their hygiene-related problems, then you will not be truly helping them. Most likely, the underlying problem is that it is a struggle for them to care for themselves. You need to be ready to step in and find them a way to get the assisted living help they need.

Watching Out for Signs that it Might Be Time for Assisted Living

For seniors and vulnerable adults who need some assistance with their hygiene, home healthcare is a very beneficial solution. A professional home healthcare aide can ensure that your loved one gets the specific assistance that they need. One of the big advantages of assisted living is that services can be fully customized to account for the unique needs of the patient. Some families even choose to have a family member whom we certify so that they can get compensation for providing help to their own loved one.

5. Changes In Appearance

Finally, you should always be on the lookout for general changes in a person’s appearance. While a change in appearance is not necessarily a bad thing, it does warrant some attention. This is especially true if your elderly relative or vulnerable loved one is starting to look less healthy. Beyond things like weight loss, you should also watch for how they take care of themselves. If they are starting to look more disheveled than they used to, that could indicate that there is a problem. The more rapid the change in appearance, the more likely it is that there is a real issue.

As people get older, there may come a time when they need some assistance managing certain day-to-day tasks. In most cases, this happens gradually over time. An elderly parent or loved one may first need help with only the most physically intensive tasks, such as mowing the lawn or shoveling snow, but as time goes on, they may need some additional assistance.Unfortunately, many people find it to be very difficult to ask for help. This is completely understandable. After a lifetime of self-reliance, it is not easy to give that up and to transition into a new stage in life. Still, there may come a day when assisted living become not only the best available option, but a necessary option. It is for this reason that it is so important to watch out for the health and well being of our most vulnerable family members.At United Energy Workers Healthcare, our home healthcare professionals want to ensure that every American gets the assistance they need and the medical care they deserve. We know that the issue of assisted living can be extremely sensitive for many people. We want you to have the knowledge to be able to protect your loved one so that you know exactly when you need to step in and help them get assistance. Here, we highlight one of the biggest physical signs that suggest that a person needs to consider assisted living: changes in appearance.

1. Actual Physical Changes

You should always watch closely for any actual changes to your vulnerable loved one’s body. First and foremost, this means to keep tabs on their weight. Rapid weight loss and rapid weight gain can both be signs that there is a real underlying problem. If their weight is fluctuating for some unknown reason, you should have a conversation with them in order to figure out what exactly is going on. Of course, weight is not the only physical change that you need to consider. You should also watch out for any injuries. For example, you may notice that your family member is beginning to burn themselves when they are cooking. This is a major warning sign that intervention is needed. You should also watch out for other common injuries, such as those related to falls. The bottom line: An uptick in recent accidents or close calls should be taken as a red flag that there is a problem. Your loved one may no longer be capable of healthy independent living.

2. Changes in Overall Look and Presentation

Beyond actual physical changes, you should also watch out for any changes in your family member’s overall look or and physical presentation. This is where your personal, local knowledge is incredibly important. Everyone has their own look and their own lifestyle. There is certainly nothing wrong with that. What is cause for concern is when things begin to change for seemingly no reason. For example, imagine that your father, who has always been a sharp dresser, suddenly, at the age of 75, begins to look very disheveled. His look and presentation have completely changed, seemingly out of nowhere. This might indicate a problem. If he is making an informed choice to change his outward appearance in his retirement, then that is perfectly fine. However, this sudden change in appearance would also be consistent with someone who is having trouble living on their own. This is why you need to follow up on the issue and figure out exactly what is going on. A sudden change in style or presentation is often a warning sign that there are many other underlying problems. It might be time to seek home health care for your loved one.

3. Changes in Disposition

Finally, you should also look out for any changes in your loved one’s general ‘disposition’. A person’s disposition is defined as their inherent qualities of mind and character. How can you tell if a person’s disposition is changing just by looking at them? It is not easy. You have to know the person very well, and you have to be proactive. In some cases, you may sense or feel a change, without really being able to articulate exactly why you feel the way that you do. When you get this feeling, you should be sure to follow up on the issue. While it is certainly not always cause for concern, there are many cases in which a change in overall demeanor or disposition is merely the tip of the iceberg. There may be serious hidden problems, and your loved one may need assistance with certain activities of daily living (ADLs) or instrumental activities of daily living (IADLs).

Be Proactive: Watch For The Physical Signs That It Might Be Time For Assisted Living

Caring for a vulnerable family member can be very difficult. One of the best things that you can do to protect their health and safety is to ensure that they get the home healthcare services that they need. Early intervention is a great way to ensure that your loved one lives a happy and fulfilling life. While talking about assisted living can be challenging, it is important to keep the lines of the communication open. You should not be afraid to broach the subject. Remember, you should always keep an eye on how your elderly parent or elderly relative is doing in their current living environment. Be sure to pay very close attention to the big five signs that indicate that it might be time for assisted living:

  • Noticeable weight loss;
  • Your loved one seeming to be frailer;
  • Noticeable weight gain;
  • Strange body odor; and
  • Unhealthy changes in appearance.

If you start noticing any of these problems, you need to be ready to intervene and take action. It is the right time to start looking into the available assisted living options. For help, you should not hesitate to contact the professionals a top-rated home healthcare agency.

Social Signs It Might Be Time for Assisted Living

For the majority people, it is difficult to admit that they need some help managing their day-to-day life. If you believe that your elderly parent or vulnerable loved one needs assisted living, it is normal for them to put up some resistance. That being said, assisted living is often the best option to keep an elderly or vulnerable person safe. In some cases, assisted living becomes all but necessary. Here, we highlight the four big signs that you should watch for that indicate that it is the right time to begin considering assisted living.

1. Signs Of A Lack Of Active Friendships

Active friendships are an important part of a healthy lifestyle. For a wide variety of reasons, it can be increasingly difficult for people to maintain active friendships as they reach their later years in life. This is a huge problem. According to research published in the Primary Care Companion for CNS Disorders, loneliness in old age is both pervasive and associated with negative health outcomes. Of course, everyone’s preferred social lifestyle is different. There absolutely nothing wrong with a person enjoying their solitude. That being said, you need to watch for changes in your older relative’s friendships. A loss of active friendships is a real problem and it should be addressed.

As people age, it can become more difficult for them to maintain positive and active friendships. This is especially true for people who are no longer working and are not engaged in regular group activities. Healthcare experts believe that this is a serious problem because active friendships are an important part of a healthy lifestyle. When a person has trouble maintaining many (or any) active friendships, it should be viewed as an important social sign that it is time for them to look into their available options for assisted living.

The Positive Health Benefits Of Active Friendships

According to research cited by the American Association of Retired Persons (AARP), there is strong evidence that active friendships come with considerable positive health benefits. In fact, there are both mental and physical benefits to building and maintaining positive and generally supportive friendships. Researchers at Michigan State University conducted a comprehensive study into the lifestyle, friendship status, and health outcomes of more than 271,000 American adults. The findings were clear: A strong social circle of close friends was closely correlated with better mental functioning and reduced chronic illnesses over a six-year period. This study is merely one in a long line of works that demonstrate the simple truth that maintaining positive and healthy friendships is part of maintaining a positive and healthy lifestyle.

Watch For A Loss Of Friendships

As someone who cares for an elderly parent or elderly relative, you should keep an eye on their social relationships with their friends. Does your loved one have close friends that they see on a regular basis? Are those bonds still as strong as they were before, or do they seem to be more difficult to maintain? These are both very important questions. If you see a deterioration in their friendships, you should follow up on the issue. Certainly, every situation is different. You should look for any indication that your loved one is either unhappy or lonely based on their current living situation. Only once you have identified this problem, you may be able to figure what type of arrangements can be made to fix it. There are many options available, so you need to create the situation that is best for your loved one. In some cases, you may be able to step in and provide some support, perhaps offering transportation or helping them find and get involved with new social groups. At the same time, you cannot be your older family member’s ‘friend’, at least not in the same sense as their peers can be. Assisted living may be the best way to get them the social support that they need to be healthy and happy.

Assisted Living Helping Create And Maintain Active Friendships

Assisted living offers people a number of different benefits. One of the major advantages is that a good assisted living facility can become a true community. It can help older adults regain a sense of independence and purpose that they otherwise may feel like they have lost. First and foremost, assisted living can alleviate the risk of very serious isolation. Deep isolation is closely associated with many different negative health outcomes. Beyond basic social interaction, many assisted living arrangements also offer residents a chance to develop true social bonds. Specifically, some of the ways in which this happen include:

  • Meal Sharing: Meal sharing is one of the most common ways in which people develop social bonds. Indeed, most people spend much of their lives sharing meals with others. In an assisted living setting, meal sharing is a common way for people to redevelop bonds and create new bonds. It keeps people grounded, while always taking care of a basic daily task.
  • Group Activities: For older adults, especially adults with difficulty functioning independently, it can be very hard to participate in group activities. Simply put, it is difficult to find groups that meet the specific parameters that are required for safe participation. Fortunately, this is an area in which assisted living can help. Assisted living helps put people in a setting where they can join group activities and create active friendships.

The bottom line is clear: If your loved one has lost most of their active friendships, it is a good time to discuss their living situation with them, as this is a sign that it might be time for assisted living. They may not currently be in a situation that is truly best for their psychological and social needs. There could be assisted living options available that will help to put them in a better position.

2. Signs That Your Loved One Has Cut Back On Activities And Interests

Participating in activities and pursuing hobbies is an important aspect of a healthy lifestyle. You should know what types of hobbies and activities your loved one enjoys. Whether they like taking walks in the woods, going on vacation, or attending musical concerts in the park, you need to watch for changes in how they live their life. A gradual or sudden loss of interest in hobbies is considered to be a major sign of depression. This certainly does not mean that your loved one has to keep doing the same hobbies and activities indefinitely. However, if they seemingly lose interest in their hobbies, and then replace those hobbies with ‘nothing’, then there may be a real problem. It should be taken as a sign that assisted living may be required.
Everyone has their own unique set of interests and hobbies that combine together make up their individual personality. As we age, it can become more difficult to participate in some of the hobbies that were previously important to us. For example, you will not see many 70-year-olds playing full-court basketball. Of course, physical limitations do not mean that you have to abandon all of your hobbies or your interests in activities. You can modify your hobbies and even find new interests.This is an important part of healthy aging. In fact, if you notice that your older parent or elderly relative has started to lose interest in participating in any activities, that should be taken as a sign that there could be a very serious underlying problem. A loss of interest in hobbies and activities is one of the major social indicators that suggest that it might be time to look into a person’s available home healthcare options.

Loss Of Interest In Hobbies And Activities Is A Sign Of Depression

Most people are not familiar with the term ‘anhedonia’. However, it is something that depression sufferers and those who are at-risk of experiencing such difficulties need to understand. In the most simple terms, anhedonia is defined as the inability to experience pleasure. It is a major symptom of most depressive disorders. In most people, it is one of the most easily identifiable signs that a person is experiencing depression or another related neurological issue. There is no inherent reason why an older person should lose interest in hobbies and activities. Certainly, their interests will change, but they should not disappear altogether. If you see signs that your loved one is experiencing all-around apathy towards most or all activities, you are likely seeing the early signs of a legitimate medical issue. It is a good time to look into your loved one’s lifestyle and their options for assisted living.

Tear Down The Barriers To Participation: How Assisted Living Can Help

When it comes to pursuing hobbies and interests, older adults can sometimes fall victim to a vicious cycle that pushes them to the side. People derive pleasure and a positive mood from their ability to participate in certain activities. Yet, limited mobility or other restrictions can make it challenging to pursue those activities that were previously so important to a person. As a result, less pleasure is derived and positive mental health benefits are lost. When these benefits decrease, the person can then slowly lose interest in pursuing any activities at all. The cycle can be self-perpetuating, and the results can be extremely negative. While that is unnerving, there is also good news. There are ways to break this negative cycle. Better yet, you can actually reverse it. The cycle of psychological effects can run in both directions. By pursuing passions and participating in new activities, your loved one can gain positive emotional benefits and can actually become more willing and engaged to join in on future activities.

Of course, this means that action needs to be taken to ‘get the ball rolling’. You need to help your loved one tear down some of the barriers that make it difficult for older and mobility-restricted people to participate in many activities. Notably, these barriers are far more difficult to clear than many people realize. As detailed by a research paper that was published in the Public Library of Science (PLOS) Journal, removal of literal physical barriers, such as transportation, is not, by itself, sufficient to remedy social isolation and a loss of interests in activities. Instead, concerned friends and relatives need to take a more comprehensive approach, addressing the older adult’s own fears and limiting beliefs in order to get them back into activities.

Assisted Living Can Provide A Solution

In terms of social stability and positive social interaction, certain assisted living options provide immense benefits to people who have seemingly lost interest in their hobbies. The reason for this is that assisted living allows for additional social and health-related support to be provided. This can ensure that both physical and mental reasons for reduced interest in activities can be addressed. If your loved one is experiencing this type of issue, you should know that it is a common sign that it might be time for assisted living. You should not let the problem get worse. Take action and have a discussion with your loved one about their lifestyle and their potential options for assisted living.

3. Days Spent Without Leaving The House

It is generally not healthy for a person to be stuck in their own house, without any companionship. Of course, for physical reasons, some people cannot leave their home on a regular basis. These people generally need some level of assisted care. If your relative is not currently receiving assisted care, and has seemingly stopped leaving their house altogether, it may be time to have a discussion regarding their living situation. They may need (and benefit) from receiving assistance that will allow them to live a more mobile lifestyle.
Few people truly understand the immense psychological damage that can be caused by loneliness. Being lonely is far deeper than just being sad; it can severely damage your physical health. According to a study cited by the Campaign to End Loneliness, a lack of positive social connections and all-around social isolation is considered to as damaging to a person’s health and well-being as is smoking 15 cigarettes per day. This is a shocking statistics and it is extremely concerning when thinking about the health and safety of older adults.Unfortunately, loneliness is a big problem among older adult, many of whom are not able to get out of the house much unless they do have strong social support. Getting out of the house is important. Indeed, the failure to do so is considered to be one of the biggest social signs that it might be time for assisted living for your loved one. If your elderly parent or older relative spends days stuck in their own house, with very little social interaction, you should consider discussing home healthcare and assisted living with them. It may be time to think about a new living arrangement.

Leaving The House On A Daily Basis Could Help You Live Longer

It is relatively easy to understand that being stuck in your own house has adverse mental health impacts. However, you may not realize how much being stuck at home can impact a person’s physical health. There is strong evidence that shows that leaving the house on a regular basis can actually help people to live not just better lives, but live longer lives. According to a study published in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society, there are more than two million Americans who report that they do not leave their home on a regular basis. For the most part, staying at home is not purely a choice that is being made by these people. In the overwhelming majority of cases, the people who are stuck in their own home are there, at least in part, due to functional limitations that they have.

Everyone’s Situation Is Different: Assisted Living Can Help

While there is no doubt that regularly leaving the house and getting out in the world offers tangible health benefits, in many cases, it is something that is much easier to say than it is to actually put into practice. Many older adults rarely (if ever) leave their house because doing so is immensely challenging for them. There is good news though: assisted living and home healthcare options are available that may be able to help provide a better living situation for your vulnerable loved one than they are currently experiencing. In some cases, the best available option may be to bring a healthcare professional into your loved one’s home in order to help them with certain tasks and to facilitate basic social support. This can help them get out of the house more and find activities that are well-suited for their current condition. In other cases, it may be best to consider moving your loved one into an assisted living facility. Often, these facilities have access to resources that can be used to offer regular outings so that your loved one can be more mobile and more active. This can provide tremendous physical and psychological benefits.

Be Ready To Take Action: Watching For This Sign

If your loved one is beginning to leave less and less from their home, you need to be ready to take action to support their best interests. First and foremost, you want to make sure that they have access to all of the things that are needed to live a healthy lifestyle. If they are having trouble getting outside, they may not be getting the nutrition or day-to-day house care products that they need to live a healthy lifestyle. You will also want to review what the situation is like inside the home. You need to be sure that they are living in an environment that is healthy, clean, and safe. When overall mobility starts to become an issue, you should not hesitate to contact a professional home healthcare agency. By consulting with a professional, you will be able to learn more about the wide variety of assisted living options that could potentially be available to you and your family.

4. Someone Who Checks In On A Regular Basis

If you have an elderly parent or a loved one who you believe is vulnerable, you need to be sure that someone is checking in on them on a regular basis. Dangerous and problematic things can happen relatively quickly. For the most vulnerable adults, assisted living is needed to help them avoid accidentsand to help with the activities of daily living (ADLs). For older adults who may not yet need assisted care, it is still important to check in regularly. When checking in, you and your family members can inquire about important aspects of their living situation to make sure that it is still safe and healthy.
We should all make efforts to check in regularly with our loved ones. Doing so provides benefits for both parties, and allows people to catch up and fortify the strong familial and social bonds that are so important. When thinking about older and vulnerable adults, checking in becomes much more important. If your 45-year-old brother, who lives with his wife and three kids has not called you in two weeks, you are likely not going to be all that worried. On the other hand, if your 87-year-old mother, who lives alone, suddenly will not pick up her phone, you may have reason to be extremely concerned.Vulnerable people, particularly those who live alone, need to be in touch with someone who can check in with them on a regular basis. Do all of your vulnerable loved ones have a person who can do a regular check-in? Will that check-in be sufficiently comprehensive to provide them social support and ensure that they are living properly? If not, or if checking in on them has become overwhelming for your busy family, this may be a sign that it might be time for assisted living.

Calling Services And Volunteer Visiting Programs Can Help

One option that many families like to use is a daily calling service. Generally, these calling services are offered for free and they are run by local police departments. For the most part, calling services programs are run at the county or precinct level, so you will need to check in with your local police station. Of course, calling services are by no means a comprehensive solution to long-term problems. Instead, they are basic tools that will call a vulnerable person each day to make sure that they are alright. If the call and backup calls are not answered, police officers can be dispatched to the person’s residence to do a check-in on them to make sure that they are still safe.

Beyond the emergency calling service, many communities also offer volunteer visiting programs. Simply put, these programs get together volunteers to go around to visit older adults and other vulnerable people. In general, these volunteers will stop in and visit for an hour or so once per week or once every other week. These programs are more designed to provide basic companionship than the calling service program, which is simply about safety.

A Family Member Or Trusted Loved One Should Visit In-Person

While a daily calling service and a volunteer visiting program can provide very useful support, they are ultimately not an adequate answer to provide true care for your loved one. A trusted friend or family member should always visit older adults or vulnerable people on a regular basis. Phone calls, video calls, and text messages are all great tools for communication, but they should be used as a supplement to and not a replacement for in-person visits. When visiting a vulnerable loved one, you should always be sure to conduct a basic review of their health and their living circumstances. These check-ins are important. When you start to notice any problems, whether it is an uncharacteristically disheveled home, doors left open for no reason, or unusual bruising from a string of recent falls, you need to consider taking additional action.

It May Be Time To Look Into Home Healthcare Or Assisted Living

Some older adults and vulnerable people are not capable of full-time independent living. These types of cases can vary widely, Your loved one may need almost constant support, or they may need assistance with a few of the most difficult tasks. In some cases, you and your family will be able to step in and provide all of the support that is required in a given situation. However, this will not always be possible. As your loved one starts to require an increased level of support, they may need more frequent check-ins and each check-in may be more intensive. You might not have the time and ability to provide them with the level of support that they need and deserve. This is where home healthcare and assisted living can help. If you believe that it might be time to consider assisted living for your elderly parent or relative, you should act now. Early intervention will help to create a better future for your family member.

5. A Plan For A Worst-Case Scenario

Everyone should have a plan for the worst-case scenario. Whether it is a fire or extreme weather, your vulnerable loved one needs to be able to find a solution if the situation gets truly dangerous. As was seen when Hurricane Harvey hit Southeast Texas with a devastating amount of rain, Houston’s elderly residents were most vulnerable to the dangers associated with the flooding. You need to make sure that your loved one has a viable plan for handling emergency situations, that they fully understand the plan, and that they are capable of carrying out the plan in their current physical condition.
Consider all of the worst-case scenarios that could impact your life. It is certainly not a comfortable thing to think about. Still, it is important to plan for potential emergencies. Whether is a house fire, a natural disaster, or some other type of major issue, you need to have a basic plan in place to protect yourself and your family. Unfortunately for older adults, who often are mobility-restricted, dealing with a worst-case scenario or any type of emergency situation can be completely overwhelming.The difficult truth is that something unexpected could go wrong at any moment in our lives. If your elderly parent or older relative is unable to provide support for themselves in a difficult situation, then they may not currently be capable of true independent living. If you are worried about how your loved one would handle a crisis situation, this may be a sign that it might be time for assisted living.

How To Know If Your Loved One Can Handle A Worst-Case Scenario

If you have worries about your older family member, you should think about how they would be able to handle an emergency situation in their current condition. To know if your older loved one can handle a worst-case scenario, you should carefully consider their specific living arrangement and their current physical and mental capabilities. It is recommended that you ask three different questions:

  1. Can my loved one help to formulate a viable emergency plan?
  2. Can my loved one remember an emergency plan?
  3. Can my loved one actually (physically) carry out an emergency plan?

If the answer to any of these three questions is ‘no’, then your loved one is in a potentially dangerous situation. They may have a tremendous amount of trouble actually taking action and getting to safety if a true emergency occurs. You should strongly consider looking into some type assisted living to help provide much-needed safety and support.

Disasters Happen: Properly Preparing

By their very nature, disasters are difficult to predict. Indeed, some disasters are completely unpredictable. Other emergencies will come with some limited warning. While precise prediction is somewhere between difficult and impossible, you can get a decent idea of what type of disasters could potentially happen in your area. Additionally, you can come up with an understanding of your loved one’s individual needs and individual limitations. With this information in mind, you should be fully prepared for any disasters that you and your family might be forced to face. Proper preparation can be the difference between safely resolving a complicated situation and tragic accident.

You should always be ready to take action. For example, if your vulnerable loved one lives in the path of hurricanes and tropical storms, you should be ready to get them to safety should any potential storm start to move in from the coast. Beyond that, you should also be prepared to take steps to prevent localized emergencies. For example, a house fire is a disaster. In some cases, home fires start because people who should not be cooking are still doing that task for themselves. If your vulnerable loved one is no longer capable of cooking, or driving, or any other potentially dangerous activity, you should be ready to step in and help them find another solution.

Assisted Living Can Prevent Emergencies

One of the biggest benefits of assisted living and home healthcare is that it helps to prevent and resolve emergency situations. You should always be on the lookout for the big key five social indicators that a person is no longer capable of true, healthy independent living, the fifth and final one being that a person is losing their ability to handle a disaster or emergency situation all on their own. If you think that this describes your elderly parent or vulnerable loved one, then it is time to take action and get them the support that they need and deserve. An adult who is not ready to deal with disasters and emergencies by themselves is a person who needs some level of assisted living or advanced support.

Always Be Proactive: Watch Out For The Social Signs

At United Energy Workers Healthcare, our family wants to make sure that your family has all of the tools that are needed to provide support for your most vulnerable loved ones. When it comes to dealing with healthcare and other related issues, early intervention is critically important. By getting your loved one connected with the best available home healthcare services for their individual needs, you can help them live a longer, happier, and more fulfilling life. Please remember to keep a close eye out for the big five social signs that indicate that it is time to look into the available assisted living options:

  1. A noticeable lack of active and positive friendships;
  2. A loss of interest in activities and hobbies;
  3. Many days spent without leaving the house;
  4. Having no one available to check-in regularly and provide social support; and
  5. An inability to create, understand and carry out an emergency plan.

If any of these five factors apply to your elderly parent or older relative, then it is time to take action. At the very least, you need to take a closer look at their living situation. When doing so, you may discover that it is time to get them some day-to-day assistance from a healthcare professional. To learn more about your available options, you should consult with the experienced professionals at a high-quality home healthcare agency today.

6 Financial Signs It Might Be Time for Assisted Living

For most people, it is very hard to admit that they might need some help managing their day-to-day life. If you are providing care for your elderly parent or vulnerable loved one, or if you are simply concerned about their well-being, it is imperative that you keep a close eye on how they are managing their daily activities. One often overlooked sign that suggests a person might be ready for assisted living is difficulty managing money. At United Energy Workers Healthcare, we are proud to provide top-quality home healthcare services to beneficiaries of the Energy Employees Occupational Illness Compensation Program (EEOICPA) and the Radiation Exposure Compensation Act (RECA). In this guide, we have put together a comprehensive overview of the six common money-related signs that indicate that it is the right time for a person to consider their options for assisted living.

1. Piles Of Mail In Various Places

It is not uncommon for people to let their mail stack up for a few days. However, when large stacks of mail start to pile up in random places, this should be taken as a sign of a potential problem. Not only can stacks of mail be a safety hazard, possibly leading to serious fall accidents, but it suggests that your loved one might be having real trouble dealing with their finances.
Even in the age of email and the internet, an enormous number of letters and packages are shipped all over the country every day. According to data provided by the federal government, the United States Postal Services (USPS) delivered 153 billion pieces of mail in the year 2016 alone. How your vulnerable loved one handles their mail can give you some valuable insight into how they are managing their overall life. If you are caring for an elderly parent or older relative, you should always keep a close watch on what they do with their mail. If the mail is being allowed to pile up in various places around their home or apartment, that is a strong sign that it might be time for assisted living. Three Reasons Why Stacks of Mail Indicate a Problem

1. Piles of Mail Can Result in Serious Accidents

A pile of mail left on the floor may not seem like that big of a deal, but for older family members, accumulated piles of anything around the house can become a serious tripping hazard. In the home of an older adult, additional precautions should be taken to ensure that all fall hazards are removed. In the United States, fall accidents are a serious problem for senior citizens. According to data from the National Council on Aging (NCOA), falls result more deaths among seniors than any other type of accident. Additionally, falls are the top cause of trauma-related emergency room visits among older adults. If the mail is piling up in your loved one’s home, you may need to take action to protect their safety.

2. A Large Amount of Unopened Mail Suggests Cognitive Decline

One of the main reasons that mail does not get opened or dealt with is because itis cognitively taxing to go through all of that information. For a person who is in the early stages of cognitive decline, it can take a ton of mental energy to open and sort mail. Once it starts to pile up, the task can be downright impossible. If your loved one is leaving large amounts of mail unopened, you should consider carefully following up on the issue. If this is a new trend, then something has changed. They may be reaching the point at which they will need assisted care.

3. A Large Amount of Unaddressed Mail Suggests Physical Issues

For a younger person, opening mail is largely a mindless task. You may open your bills while walking in from the mailbox, or while grabbing yourself a snack from the fridge. It is likely not something that you think about much at all. However, for an older person who is in a vulnerable physical state, opening mail can be difficult. It takes a degree of hand strength, dexterity, and energy. Your loved one may have little cognitive trouble dealing with their mail, but the physical task may simply be too much. If this is the case, you should follow up on this issue. It strongly suggests that they need home healthcare assistance to open their mail and support them with other common day-to-day tasks and activities.

2. Unopened Personal Mail

It is not uncommon for people to let their mail stack up for a few days. However, when large stacks of mail start to pile up in random places, this should be taken as a sign of a potential problem. Not only can stacks of mail be a safety hazard, possibly leading to serious fall accidents, but it suggests that your loved one might be having real trouble dealing with their finances.
Very few people open all of their junk mail. According to data provided by the New York University (NYU) School of Law, 44 percent of all of the junk mail sent in the United States simply gets tossed out without ever being opened. But what if it isn’t just junk mail that your loved ones aren’t opening?Many elderly members of society often stop opening or reading personal mail or pile their mail in a particular place with the intent of reading it later. Unopened mail, however, especially over the course of weeks or months, may indicate a more serious problem. If your elderly parent or relative routinely forgets to open personal letters, this may be an indicator that they are also having trouble managing other important aspects of their day-to-day life. Unopened personal mail should be taken as a sign that it might be time for assisted living.

Find Out More about Unopened Personal Mail

If your loved one is not opening their personal mail in a timely manner, you need to follow up on this issue. To start, you should take proactive steps to figure out exactly what is going on. This includes asking them why they are not opening their mail. In many cases, the answer will be that they simply forgot about the letter. Perhaps they are having physical trouble opening letters or they are avoiding some unpleasant information. It is critically important that you handle this issue in a sensitive manner. Forgetting about or avoiding personal mail can be embarrassing. You want to make sure that you are providing your loved one with the proper care and true emotional support that they need.

A Sign of Bigger Problems

When most people head out to their mailbox, personal letters are typically the very first thing that gets opened. This is true for several different reasons, partially because personal letters are exciting as they tend to come somewhat infrequently. If your older loved one is having a tough time managing personal mail, then there is a very good chance that there are even bigger problems under the surface. You need to follow up on the issue. How are they dealing with their bills? How are they managing their finances? Are they mentally and physically capable of caring for themselves? If they are having trouble, you need to get them assistance. It is better to have the conversation too soon rather than too late.

Customized Assisted Living

Every person’s home healthcare needs are different. Some people may need to move into an assisted living facility or nursing home on a full-time basis. Other people may simply need some limited help handling the most challenging of their activities of daily living (ADLs). Fortunately, there are many different assisted living and home healthcare options available to people who require help. By intervening as early as possible, you can help your loved one get the assisted care that is truly best for their individual situation so that they can live the happiest and healthiest lifestyle possible.

3. Unopened Bills

One of the most common early warning signs of general mental decline is forgetting to open bills. Managing finances is a far more complex cognitive task than many people realize. A person who is suddenly losing track of their bills is likely a person who is showing the early warning signs that they need assistance.
Does your older parent or elderly relative have a stack of unopened bills that is piling up on their kitchen counter? Does it seem like their mailbox is constantly overflowing? If so, you may be seeing some of the early warning signs that it might be time for assisted living. Increased difficulty managing finances is one of the key early warning signs of overall cognitive decline. Your loved one may need some assistance managing certain day-to-day tasks, including their finances. When bills are left unopened and unpaid, a person’s financial situation can quickly spiral out of control. You need to be ready to take action.

Follow Up on Unopened Bills

Unopened bills are often a sign that finances are being mismanaged. These bills need to be opened, so that you and your loved one can work together in order to figure out what has been paid and what needs to be paid. There are two different issues that must be addressed. To start, you need to make sure that your loved one is on reasonably stable financial footing. A trusted person should be ready to help them sort out their financial situation. More importantly, you need to make sure that your loved one is in a safe and healthy environment. Difficulty managing finances is usually an early warning sign that a person is in need of assisted care.

Managing Finances

You do not want your loved one to end up in a financial mess. If they are not opening and paying their bills in a timely manner, they may no longer have the capacity to manage their own finances. It may be time for a trusted person to step in to provide some assistance. It is normal for older adults to put up resistance to giving away power of their own finances. You should try to come to an arrangement that works best for them, within the context of their individual situation. In some cases, setting up automatic payments or providing some guidance with basic budgeting could be the best answer. In other cases, a trusted family member may need to take over their finances entirely.

Difficulty Managing Finances: Signals for Assisted Living

Trouble managing money is one of the first warning signs that a person is experiencing mental decline. To be sure, the National Institute on Aging (NIOA) reports that trouble managing finances is one of the earliest warning signs of dementia and Alzheimer’s. It can also be associated with general age-related cognitive decline. You should keep a close eye on how your loved one handles their finances. Are they getting worse at it? Are bills being missed for the first time in many years? If so, you should consider taking action. Early warning signs like sudden missed payments on bills or trouble calculating tips at restaurants are usually indicators of more extensive problems. It could be the right time to consider the available home healthcare options for your loved one.

4. Letters From Banks, Creditors, Or Insurers

You should always take a look at the letters that your vulnerable loved one is getting from banks, creditors, and insurance companies. Is your loved one starting to miss payments? If so, you need to address the issue. It is not uncommon for elderly people to begin to lose track of their billing schedule, missing payments even though they have the money to cover the bill.
Are you worried about the letters that your elderly parent or loved one is receiving from their bank, their creditors, or their insurance company? You may be seeing one of the warning signs that it might be time for assisted living. Of course, ordinary bank statements and routine business letters are no cause for real concern. However, when you start to see unusual or unexpected correspondence, you will need to be sure that you follow up on the issue.

Watch for Missed Payments

If you are starting to get worried about how your loved one is doing in terms of managing their finances, you should begin by looking for any missed payments. If they are starting to miss payments or failing to pay other bills on time, you need to figure out what is going on. Not only do they run the risk of digging themselves into a serious financial mess, but they may need significant help managing their money. Indeed, the problem may simply be that they are overwhelmed and forgetting to make timely payments. If there are letters from creditors indicating missed payments, those need to be addressed immediately.

Watch for Overdrawn Accounts

If the bank is sending your loved one overdraft letters, you need to take action to figure out what is going on. In many cases, older adults end up mixing up their accounts and end up with overdraft fees because they used the wrong account on a purchase. Those overdraft fees can quickly start to add up to a hefty number. According to data provided by Consumer Action, the average overdraft fee has now reached $35 per each transaction. As a financial mistake can lead to multiple overdraft fees, your loved one could easily be hit with over a hundred dollars in fees because of a basic miscalculation. You do not want your loved one to waste their money paying the big banks avoidable fees.

Watch for All Correspondence With the Insurance Company

Finally, you should review any important letters that your loved one has received from their insurance company. There are several different things that you need to consider. First, you should make sure that they are actually maintaining the right insurance coverage. If they have accidentally allowed their homeowners’ insurance to lapse, that could lead to some real problems in the event that something goes wrong.

Further, you should also watch for any claims that they have made against their insurance policy. Did your older parent get into a minor car accident without telling you? Were they involved in multiple recent accidents? If so, you need to follow up on the issue. A string of recent accidents or close calls is one of the primary signs that is time for a person to seek assisted living or home healthcare. You should review all letters from banks, creditors, and insurers that suggest that there might be a problem. It could be the right time to help your loved one get home healthcare or assisted living.

5. Thank-You Messages From Charities

It is a sad fact, but charities or other fundraising organizations sometimes take advantage of older people. Of course, donating to a good cause is a wonderful thing, but you need to be sure that your loved one fully understands just how often and how much they are donating. A sudden uptick in charity donations, especially overlapping donations, often indicates a problem.
Americans are generous with their money. According to data provided by Giving USA, $390 billion was given to charitable organizations in the year 2017 alone. It is wonderful news that so many people are willing to give their money in support of a wide variety of different causes. Unfortunately, it must be noted that there are also many unscrupulous ‘charities’ out there who often take advantage of the elderly. According to a report in Nonprofit Quarterly (NPO), these types of unethical organizations frequently harass vulnerable elderly people for donations. If you are caring for a vulnerable loved one, you should review their mail for thank-you messages from charities. Are they donating more money than is appropriate given their desires and their current financial situation? If so, you need to be ready to take action. You are seeing one of the common money-related signs that it might be time for assisted living.

1. Did Your Loved One Make Large Donations While on a Fixed Income?

If your loved one is making significant total donations while they are on a fixed income or a limited income, this should be taken as a sign that there is a problem. It is great that their heart is in the right place and that they want to support a good cause. However, they need to be able to protect their own health, safety, and well-being. If your loved one is donating money to unknown charities or over-the-phone solicitors posing as charities, you may want to consider taking action.

2. Did Your Loved One Donate Repeatedly to the Same Charity?

Many charities set up donations on a monthly subscriber basis. This is a fine arrangement as long as your loved one fully understands what they are getting into and they have the financial resources to donate monthly at a given level. If you notice multiple sporadic payments to the same organization, there may be a problem. Aggressive fundraisers may be taking advantage of your loved one, and intermittent collections are definitely a common pattern of fraudulent activity.

3. Did Your Loved One Donate to an Unreliable Organization or a Possible Scam?

You should carefully review the reliability of the charities that your loved one is supporting. Where did they find out about these organizations? Are they donating to help support a cause or an issue that they have always cared about? You need to watch out for scams which can take place in many different forms today, including phone calls, written letters, emails, and even Facebook messages.

4. Did Your Loved One Feel Pressured Into Donating?

A trustworthy charitable organization should not be pressuring vulnerable, elderly people into making large donations. If your loved one tells you that they felt harassed or pressured into donating, you need to take action to stop any further donations. Sometimes, due to the embarrassment of being scammed or fearful that telling someone could end up hurting them, many elderly people will keep this information to themselves. If you are in the position to do it, be proactive and take the initiative to find out about monetary contributions to different charities. If you find any indicators pointing to a misuse of money to potentially fraudulent charities, you may want to consider some type of assisted living or monitoring for your loved one.

6. Lots Of Crisp, Unread Magazines

If your elderly loved one is receiving an unusually high volume of magazines, they might be having trouble managing their money. They may be signing up for many different renewable subscriptions, without realizing the full extent of how much money they are committing to magazines.
Americans are generous with their money. According to data provided by Giving USA, $390 billion was given to charitable organizations in the year 2017 alone. It is wonderful news that so many people are willing to give their money in support of a wide variety of different causes. Unfortunately, it must be noted that there are also many unscrupulous ‘charities’ out there who often take advantage of the elderly. According to a report in Nonprofit Quarterly (NPO), these types of unethical organizations frequently harass vulnerable elderly people for donations. If you are caring for a vulnerable loved one, you should review their mail for thank-you messages from charities. Are they donating more money than is appropriate given their desires and their current financial situation? If so, you need to be ready to take action. You are seeing one of the common money-related signs that it might be time for assisted living.

1. Did Your Loved One Make Large Donations While on a Fixed Income?

If your loved one is making significant total donations while they are on a fixed income or a limited income, this should be taken as a sign that there is a problem. It is great that their heart is in the right place and that they want to support a good cause. However, they need to be able to protect their own health, safety, and well-being. If your loved one is donating money to unknown charities or over-the-phone solicitors posing as charities, you may want to consider taking action.

2. Did Your Loved One Donate Repeatedly to the Same Charity?

Many charities set up donations on a monthly subscriber basis. This is a fine arrangement as long as your loved one fully understands what they are getting into and they have the financial resources to donate monthly at a given level. If you notice multiple sporadic payments to the same organization, there may be a problem. Aggressive fundraisers may be taking advantage of your loved one, and intermittent collections are definitely a common pattern of fraudulent activity.

3. Did Your Loved One Donate to an Unreliable Organization or a Possible Scam?

You should carefully review the reliability of the charities that your loved one is supporting. Where did they find out about these organizations? Are they donating to help support a cause or an issue that they have always cared about? You need to watch out for scams which can take place in many different forms today, including phone calls, written letters, emails, and even Facebook messages.

4. Did Your Loved One Feel Pressured Into Donating?

A trustworthy charitable organization should not be pressuring vulnerable, elderly people into making large donations. If your loved one tells you that they felt harassed or pressured into donating, you need to take action to stop any further donations. Sometimes, due to the embarrassment of being scammed or fearful that telling someone could end up hurting them, many elderly people will keep this information to themselves. If you are in the position to do it, be proactive and take the initiative to find out about monetary contributions to different charities. If you find any indicators pointing to a misuse of money to potentially fraudulent charities, you may want to consider some type of assisted living or monitoring for your loved one.

Driving Signs it Might Be Time for Assisted Living

When an individual can no longer safely live independently, he or she may need assisted living. There are a few ways an individual can receive the assistance he or she needs to continue living as independently as possible without facing health and safety risks. At United Energy Workers Healthcare, we provide top-quality home healthcare services to individuals who qualify under the Energy Employees Occupational Illness Compensation Program Act (EEOICPA) and the Radiation Exposure Compensation Act (RECA). In this guide, we will explain the signs in your loved one’s driving that could indicate that he or she needs assisted living. Driving is one area where an individual’s decreasing capacities can quickly become apparent because driving is a complicated process. It requires mental stamina, physical strength and coordination, cognitive clarity, and sufficient vision and hearing to drive a car safely.

Sign #1: Nicks Or Dents In The Car

Nicks, dents, and scratches on your loved one’s vehicle can show signs of two types of decline: visual and cognitive. Your loved one might begin driving more carelessly because he or she has become forgetful. He or she might also be suffering from visual difficulties and be unable to see hazards and gauge his or her environment, causing him or her to hit curbs, other vehicles, and objects.
The next time you visit your loved one, take note of the condition of his or her car’s body. Nicks, dents, and scrapes can all act as signs that it might be time for assisted living. If you notice new damage to the vehicle that was not there the last time you saw the car, ask your loved one about them. If your loved one is not willing to acknowledge that he or she has become a more careless driver, take pictures of any new damage to the car’s exterior each time you see it. This evidence can be what you need to show your loved one that he or she is no longer fit to drive.

Dementia and Careless Driving

External damage to a vehicle is often the result of minor collisions. As dementia takes its toll on an individual’s mind, he or she can become a less careful driver. If you notice that your loved one regularly hits trash cans, curbs, and other objects, he or she could be suffering from dementia.Careless driving can be dangerous. While backing into a trash can may simply leave a scratch on the vehicle’s bumper, backing into another vehicle can cause substantial property damage for which your loved one is liable. When your loved one’s careless driving leads to collisions with moving vehicles and pedestrians, he or she can potentially cause another person to be injured or even killed.

Vision and Hearing Loss

Nicks and dents on your loved one’s car can also indicate his or her diminishing physical capacities. Macular degeneration is a condition that can cause an individual to slowly lose his or her vision. Currently, it affects more than 10 million Americans. If your loved one is diagnosed with this condition, be proactive about transitioning him or her out of the driver’s seat when it becomes apparent that he or she can no longer drive safely. Hearing is also a critical sense for any driver. As your loved one loses his or her hearing, he or she might be unable to hear other vehicle’s horns and other auditory cues from the environment around him or her, putting your loved one at risk of being involved in an accident.

A Careless Driver is a Hazard to Everybody on the Road

If your loved one is showing signs of being unable to drive safely, you might need to take away his or her car keys not just for your loved one’s own benefit, but to protect everybody else on the roadway. It can be hard to tell your loved one that he or she cannot drive anymore, but think of the alternative: if your loved one continues to drive despite being unable to do so safely, he or she could be killed in an accident or kill somebody else. If your loved one is concerned that being unable to drive will keep him or her from being able to get to doctor appointments, run errands, and maintain a social life, talk to him or her about the benefits of assisted living. He or she can still live a full, independent life without driving.

Sign #2: Not Promptly Fastening His Or Her Seatbelt

Sign #2: Not Promptly Fastening His Or Her Seatbelt
For most drivers, fastening one’s seat belt is simply a rote part of getting into the car. An individual with advanced dementia may skip this step without realizing it.
Since 1968, all personal motor vehicles sold in the United States are required to have seatbelts. In the decades that followed, nearly every state enacted some type of compulsory seat belt use law. Today, most drivers, even older drivers, have spent the majority of their driving years in vehicles outfitted with seatbelts. Fastening a seatbelt is a rote process for nearly every American today; many drivers fasten their seatbelts before turning on their vehicles. When you know your loved one is the type of person who automatically fastens his or her seatbelt after getting into the driver’s seat, seeing him or her skip this step and go right to turning on the car can be jarring. It can also be a sign that he or she is suffering from dementia. Some forgetfulness is normal with age. Sometimes, it is a sign of depression in older adults. When an older loved one forgets important information or becomes disoriented because of his or her inability to make sense of his or her surroundings, forgetfulness could indicate dementia and a sign that it might be time for assisted living.

Assess your Loved One’s Forgetfulness in Conjunction with Other Driving Tasks

When you notice your loved one forget to fasten his or her seatbelt, point it out to him or her. A one-off mistake is not something to worry about. When it happens regularly or it happens in conjunction with other careless mistakes like forgetting to signal before turning, reacting slower than normal to other drivers and hazards in the roadway, and driving in unsafe ways like tailgating, drifting in and out of the lane, and failing to maintain a consistent speed, you have a good reason to be concerned about your loved one’s ability to drive safely. In all your assessments of your loved one’s driving ability, context is key.

Safety Should Always be your Top Concern

Telling your loved one you want him or her to stop driving is not an act of control on your part, it is an act of concern for your loved one’s safety as well as others’ safety. Seatbelts save lives, but forgetting to wear a seatbelt often means a greater safety risk: your loved one’s cognitive ability to continue driving.Take note of any other rote driving tasks your loved one forgets to perform, such as:

  • Turning on his or her headlights when driving at night or during a rainstorm;
  • Signaling before turning;
  • Using the parking brake when parked on an incline;
  • Using the backup camera or rearview mirror or physically turning in his or her seat to see what is behind the vehicle before backing up; and
  • Locking the vehicle after exiting it.

Discuss your concerns with your loved one and his or her doctor. When forgetfulness is a sign of mental decline, it is important that your loved one’s doctor is aware of these incidents and can recommend an appropriate course of action for keeping him or her safe without sacrificing his or her independence.

Sign #3: Tension, Preoccupation, And Being Easily Distracted

An individual who knows his or her driving skills are not what they once were may self-regulate by sticking to certain routes, driving at slow speeds, and choosing not to listen to the radio when driving.
These are all indications that your loved one’s cognitive decline is impairing his or her ability to safely drive a car, and signs that it might be time for assisted living. An individual must be alert and reactive to drive safely. When your loved one is easily distracted, insecure in his or her driving ability, or so focused on the motions of driving that he or she does not react to environmental factors, it could be time to reconsider whether your loved one should still be driving.

Signs your Loved One is Tense Behind the Wheel

Timidness and anxiety around driving are signs that your loved one no longer trusts his or her ability to drive. This could stem from recognizing that he or she is physically declining and cannot see or hear as well as he or she once could or it could be a reaction to the difficulties he or she faces like keeping pace with the traffic and getting to destinations without getting lost. A few signs that your loved one is not confident driving include:

  • Avoiding driving on certain roadways or in certain weather conditions;
  • Not listening to the radio when driving;
  • Choosing not to engage in conversation with passengers; and
  • Expressing physical signs of tension, like gripping the wheel tightly and overreacting to stimuli.

When Preoccupation Interferes with Safe Driving

Your loved one might be so concerned about his or her driving ability that he or she actually becomes a less safe driver. There are a few ways this can happen:

  • Your loved one might overcorrect following a disruption or error. One example of this is reactively jerking the wheel more strongly than necessary to swerve out of the way of hitting another driver or to remain in a lane when the vehicle begins to drift into the next lane. This overcorrection can cause the car to enter the opposite lane, putting him or her at risk of being hit on the other side. Another type of overcorrection is to pull the steering wheel or jam on the brakes hard when the vehicle hydroplanes or hits ice;
  • A preoccupation with driving the speed limit could cause your loved one to drive too fast or too slow for the road on which he or she is traveling. Driving at or below the speed limit is important, but so is keeping pace with the traffic, which can sometimes require speed adjustments for everybody’s safety; and
  • Preoccupation with taking a specific route or reaching his or her destination by a specific time can distract the driver from important tasks, like modulating his or her speed and altering his or her route when necessary.

Take Note when your Loved One Becomes Distracted

A distracted driver is not a safe driver. Being easily distracted can be a sign of dementia. Take note of how frequently your loved one becomes distracted when driving and how these distractions interfere with his or her ability to drive safely. Your loved one might get caught up reading signs you pass or become so engaged in the music or discussions on the radio that he or she stops paying attention to the road.

Sign #4: Dangerous Driving

As discussed above, an individual experiencing dementia can become a more careless driver. Visual impairment can also make it difficult for an individual to remain in his or her lane, use the driver controls, and see traffic lights and other signs.
A driver’s physical and mental impairments can make him or her a dangerous driver. When an older loved one begins to drive dangerously, it could be time to start talking to him or her about stopping driving. An impaired driver is a hazard to him- or herself as well as everybody else on the roadway, such as other motorists, bicyclists, and pedestrians. Although it can be a difficult conversation, discussing your concerns about your loved one’s dangerous driving can prevent accidents and save lives.

Dangerous Driving and Signs that It Might Be Time for Assisted Living

When an individual’s eyesight worsens, he or she can have difficulty seeing and reacting to hazards in the roadway. A visually impaired adult might collide with stationary objects or fail to clearly see traffic signs. In some cases, an individual who can safely drive during the day cannot see well enough to drive safely at night. Dangerous driving can also be a sign of mental decline. Dementia can negatively impact an older adult’s judgment and reasoning skills. Additionally, his or her reaction time may be slowed, making him or her more likely to be involved in an accident.

Recognizing Dangerous Driving

Ride with your loved one regularly so you can get a feel for his or her driving ability. Take note of any times you feel unsafe in the vehicle because of his or her driving. Dangerous driving can include:

  • Tailgating other vehicles;
  • Drifting in and out of lanes;
  • Straddling lanes;
  • Accelerating or braking without any apparent reason;
  • Waiting until the last moment before a stop sign, red light, or collision to brake and braking hard in that moment;
  • Backing up after missing an exit or a turn instead of driving until it is safe to make a u-turn or take the next exit;
  • Driving much slower than the posted speed limit;
  • Failing to use a turn signal; and
  • Failing to look before turning, changing lanes, and backing up.

Also take note of your loved one’s confidence level when driving. If your loved one seems nervous, it could be a sign that he or she is no longer a confident driver.

Sign #5: Warning Lights

Warning lights on an individual’s dashboard can be a sign that he or she is no longer capable of safely owning and driving a car. Being a safe driver means more than driving at the speed limit and obeying posted traffic signs. It means performing routine maintenance on the vehicle, which includes topping off its fluids, keeping the tires properly inflated, and having it serviced when necessary.

We’re all familiar with the dashboard warning lights that tell us when our vehicles are experiencing mechanical problems. Colloquially, they are known as “idiot lights” because they make it simple for drivers without mechanical knowledge to know when they need to have their vehicles repaired. When a warning light appears on a dashboard, a conscientious driver takes note and corrects the issue or brings the vehicle to a repair shop to have the problem corrected as soon as possible. Ignoring warning lights for a prolonged period of time or continually forgetting to correct mechanical problems with a vehicle can be signs that an older driver is no longer capable of driving safely. Vehicle maintenance is a key part of safe driving, and when a driver fails to properly maintain his or her vehicle, he or she faces an increased risk of being involved in an accident and potentially suffering an injury or causing another person’s injury.

Common Dashboard Warning Lights

A few of the most common dashboard warning lights are:

  • Check engine;
  • Dirty air filter;
  • Brake fluid low;
  • Water in fuel filter;
  • Coolant temperature warning;
  • Service vehicle soon;
  • Oil pressure warning;
  • Oil change reminder;
  • Transmission temperature warning; and
  • Tire pressure warning.

As you can see, many of these warning lights are for routine maintenance, like oil changes and fluid replacements. Others, like the check engine light, can indicate a serious problem with the vehicle like a cylinder misfire. Mention the dashboard lights you notice to your loved one. Talk to him or her about your concerns regarding his or her vehicle maintenance and how failing to perform routine maintenance is unsafe. Early signs of dementia include difficulty focusing, paying attention, and impaired reasoning and judgment. If your loved one seems unconcerned about the dashboard lights in his vehicle, you should be concerned about his or her capacity to drive safely. Do not simply take on routine vehicle maintenance jobs for your loved one. Although you can ensure that the vehicle continues to run properly, you cannot reverse the effects your loved one’s age has on his or her driving ability.

Kitchen Signs it Might Be Time for Assisted Living

Making a decision to put a loved one into an assisted living facility is extremely difficult; most people wish that they could provide for their parent or grandparent on their own, but simply do not have the time or the skill set to do so. While there are numerous reasons why a party may choose assisted living for themselves of another person, signs of deterioration in health and ability to care for oneself is one of the most pressing. Here are some signs that it might be time for assisted living that you may notice in your loved one’s kitchen.

Sign #1: Stale or expired food.

One thing to look out for in a loved one’s kitchen that may be indicative of the fact that they are struggling to care for themselves is any stale or expired food. Not only does this suggest that the individual is not eating, but that they may be unaware that the food is there in the first place, or are having trouble remembering to do basic things (like throw leftovers away after they’ve been in the refrigerator for a few days).
Watching a parent or other loved one age can be difficult, and as mom or dad, grandma or grandpa gets older, it’s important to pay attention to signs it might be time for assisted living. In the kitchen, stale or expired food is one thing to keep an eye out for.

Things to Look For

Everyone is guilty of buying more than they need, and wasting food is pretty common, too. You don’t need to jump the gun anytime you notice a bottle of salad dressing with an expiration date that has already passed, but you should keep an eye out for:

  • Smelly food that has obviously gone bad;
  • Visible mold on breads, cheeses, and other foods;
  • Leftovers that are clearly well past a safe date to eat;
  • Rotten fruit, including things kept outside of the fridge like bananas;
  • Multiple expired foods rather than just a few here and there; and
  • Expired milk, meat, eggs, and yogurt, which are things that tend to be eaten more routinely (as compared to dressings and sauces that are used periodically over time).

You should also pay attention to whether or not the food and the fact that it has gone bad is unnoticed. For example, does your elderly loved one know that they likely have some dated food in their fridge, and they just haven’t gotten around to cleaning it out? Or are they completely unaware of the rancid smell coming from the milk, and would plan on drinking it but for your intervention?

What Stale or Expired Food Could Mean

Stale and expired food can mean a number of things, and it’s important to note that just because someone has stale or expired food in their fridge does not mean that they should be checked into an assisted living facility. The biggest indication that something that has gone wrong is a deviation from the norm. If the person has always been one to waste food and be unaware of expiration dates, then you shouldn’t worry as much as you should if the person has always been on top of keeping the fridge clean.

Stale or expired food, especially when the accumulation of it is much different from what’s normal, may mean that the individual is:

  • Becoming more forgetful;
  • Not eating or not eating enough;
  • Not preparing their own food anymore (instead opting for microwave meals or take out);
  • Is suffering from the early stages of a neurodegenerative condition; or
  • Is losing their sense of smell or taste.

Is it Dangerous?

Another reason that you should keep an eye out for stale or expired food is that in some cases, it can be dangerous. While sell by and use by dates are not numbers that mean that food has to be thrown out by a certain time, eating food that is bacteria-ridden can have consequences, including bouts of serious food poisoning. In most cases, it is healthiest to eat food that looks and smells fresh!

Sign #2: Multiples of the Same Item

Everyone has been in a situation where they arrive at the grocery store, cannot remember if they have an item on their list at home already, and go ahead and purchase the item just in case. While this may be relatable and even normal, having multiple multiples of the same item is a sign of a more serious problem. If you notice that your loved one has a couple gallons of milk, two loaves of bread, too many eggs to possibly eat on their own, etc., it may be a sign of forgetfulness that could be indicative of a more serious problem.
Who hasn’t accidentally purchased more than one of the same thing at some point in their life? Perhaps you went to the store without a list, and couldn’t remember whether or not you already had ketchup at home. Or perhaps your spouse when to one store, you to the other, and you both came home with multiples of the same thing. Or even more frustrating, perhaps you purchased an item just a few days ago, only to completely forget about the purchase and buy the item again unnecessarily.Mistakes like this happen, and it’s common for the brain to feel overwhelmed and to take shortcuts here and there. But if your elderly loved one is routinely purchasing multiples of the same item, it could be a sign that it might be time for assisted living.

What Does Buying Multiples of the Same Item Indicate?

Before you jump to conclusions about why your loved one has 15 bottles of mustard or three gallons of unopened milk in their fridge, you might want to ask them. Perhaps they’re planning for an event, or just want to stock up on nonperishables? Or, perhaps a situation similar to the ones listed above occurred, where they just plain old forgot about the fact that they already had what they needed at home when purchasing a replacement.

However, there are some cases when buying multiples of the same item could mean that something is awry. If it is happening routinely, this could mean that your loved one is having memory problems. While minor lapses in memory may seem innocuous or even normal, keep in mind that this could be indicative of a more serious degenerative brain condition, and one that could even be dangerous. If your elderly loved one can’t remember buying those eight loaves of bread, or recall taking the trips to the store, is it safe for them to be living alone?

Provide Assistance Where You Can

One thing that can help to mitigate the problem of your elderly loved one buying multiples of the same item is to check in with them before they go shopping and see what they need, and perhaps even accompany them on their trip to the store. Again, don’t be afraid to ask what’s going on. Asking questions is important, but do so delicately; you don’t want to put your loved one on the defensive or make them feel embarrassed or ashamed about their aging.

If the problem continues to the point where you feel worried about your loved one’s safety or ability to care for themselves, take action. Things like buying multiple items of food, when indicative of a health problem, are usually accompanied by other symptoms. Take notes and pay attention, and don’t be afraid to reach out to a professional with any questions that you have.

Sign #3: A Freezer Full of TV Dinners

TV dinners don’t mean that your loved one is necessarily sick or suffering from any degenerative condition, but it is important to note that TV dinners are generally not healthy. If your elderly loved one is primarily eating TV dinners, this may be negative for their health, and mean that they’re not receiving the vitamins and nutrients they need for optimal wellbeing.
Most people have had a frozen TV dinner at some point in their life, or may even make a habit out of eating frozen meals that can be microwaved in a manner of minutes; eating like this can be convenient, especially for those who are particularly busy or dislike cooking. However, a freezer full of TV dinners in an aging loved one’s home isn’t a good sign for two reasons: First, TV dinners lack nutrients that are necessary for good health, and sole consumption of these meals may mean that the elderly person isn’t receiving the vitamins and minerals they need for optimal health. Second, if the switch to TV dinner is a new one–i.e., the elderly person used to enjoy cooking for themselves and eating home-cooked meals–the change could mean that the person feels as though they have lost the mental or physical faculties to prepare food.

TV Dinners Negative for Health

Despite the fact that TV dinners are often advertised as being good for your health, nothing beats fresh food and a home-cooked meal that’s full of healthy fats, protein, and plenty of vegetables. Indeed, research shows that TV dinners often have too few calories (they are often intended for weight loss), not enough vegetables, and too much sodium. TV dinners are often highly processed, loaded with additives (some of which could be dangerous), and wrapped in plastic.

If your loved one is relying on TV dinners as their primary source of food, it’s time for a change. If you cannot help them to prepare healthy meals on a regular basis, this could be a sign that it might be time for assisted living.

A Decline in Mental or Physical Health

As stated above, in addition to the lack of nutrients found in a typical TV dinner, another reason that a freezer full of frozen meals could be concerning is that that might be indicative of a decline in an elderly loved one’s mental or physical health. If your parent or other loved one has always hated cooking and has always been one to go for fast food or frozen meals, this may not be the case.

However, many younger people are surprised when their parents or grandparents start to rely solely on frozen food when they used to love to cook. If this is the case, it could be a sign that your loved one feels as though they are no longer mentally or physically able to prepare their own food safely. If cooking has become too much, other activities and self-care could be too much, too. Again, considering the benefits of assisted living when this is the case is a must.

If you’re not sure why they switched to frozen meals, don’t be afraid to ask. Your loved one may tell you that they feel unable to prepare food or may have another legitimate reason for the change. In fact, they may even be open to eating more fresh food if you present them evidence in support of the health benefits.

Sign #4: Broken Appliances

Appliances break over time, so a broken appliance alone shouldn’t be taken as a sign that it’s time to move your parent or other elderly loved one into an assisted care facility. However, appliances that are used often (like a microwave or stove) that have gone unrepaired could mean that it’s time for a change. Broken appliances in the kitchen can mean less cooking (and therefore less healthful food), and could indicate that the individual has forgotten to repair it or is even unaware that it’s broken.
Any homeowner has experienced a broken appliance a time or two within their home. However, most homeowners seek to fix those appliances quickly, especially when they are ones that are used often, such as a stove or clothes dryer. Which is why broken appliances in the home of an aging loved one that go unnoticed or unrepaired can be concerning. Consider the following about how broken appliances in a loved one’s kitchen may be a sign that it might be time for assisted living.

Your Loved One Hasn’t Noticed the Broken Appliances

The first thing to consider when you notice broken appliances in an elderly loved one’s home is whether or not your loved one is aware that the appliances are broken. If they’re not, this could be a sign in itself that their mental faculties are slipping, and that living alone is no longer a safe choice. If they have noticed the appliances, don’t be afraid to ask why they haven’t sought repairs yet.

They Keep Forgetting About the Broken Appliances

Another sign that it may be time for assisted living is in the case that your loved one is fully aware of the broken appliances, keeps talking about them and talking about fixing them, but continuously forgets to schedule repairs. While we’ve all been guilty of planning to do something and letting it slip our mind, this is more common amongst particularly busy adults with a lot on their plate. If the forgetfulness is constant (and it extends to other things), this might be a sign of a memory loss issue or even a more serious condition like the start of dementia or Alzheimer’s. Is your loved one forgetting to do other things too?

They’re Not Using the Kitchen Anymore

In some cases, your loved one may not notice that their appliances are broken, or may not care to fix the broken kitchen appliance because they are simply not using the kitchen anymore. This may be concerning as it could be an indication that the individual no longer feels capable of preparing meals for themselves or/and that they are eating a lot of takeout or frozen meals, or skipping meals altogether. If you have noticed that your loved one’s health has declined, their diet has changed dramatically, or they have lost weight, it’s time to say something. Elderly people need to be eating healthful and fresh food; getting proper vitamins and nutrients is critical for well-being, especially in old age.

Keep in mind that a broken appliance alone may not be cause for alarm, but it could be concerning when any of the above is true, or when the broken appliances in the kitchen comprise just one of many things which seem amiss. If you doubt that your loved one is able to care for themselves as they should, have a conversation with them, and don’t hesitate to think about the benefits of assisted living.

Sign #5: Signs of Fire

Signs of fire are very serious. From charred pans to potholders with burnt edges to a discharged fire extinguisher, a kitchen fire can be fatal for an elderly person that’s living on their own. Signs of fire may mean that your loved one is forgetting about items on the stove or in the oven, and could use some assistance.
Some of the most concerning kitchen signs that it may be time for assisted living are any signs of fire. Signs of fire are extremely worrisome not only because they can mean a slip in mental faculties, but because fire can be fatal. To be sure, a study published by the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) found that frailty makes elderly people more likely to die in home fires. Data from the NIST also states that home fires result in an average of 2,740 deaths and 13,000 injuries per year. If you notice signs of fire in your elderly loved one’s kitchen, it’s time to take action. Here’s an overview of what to look for, what it may mean, and what your options are.

What to Look for: Signs of Fire in the Kitchen

Nearly everyone can share a story about the time they left the oven on, left a towel too close to a burner, or scorched a pan and burned a dish they were preparing. Being absent minded happens to the best of us, but with elderly people, absent mindedness can be dangerous, and a fire in the kitchen–especially more than one–can be very problematic. When you visit your elderly loved one, keep an eye out for signs of fire in the kitchen, including:

  • Burnt or singed oven mitts;
  • Singed pot bottoms;
  • Charred remains in ovens;
  • Signs of smoke damage on kitchen backsplash;
  • Removed fire alarms/smoke detectors;
  • Discharged fire extinguish;
  • Baking soda near the stove (which can be used to extinguish grease fires); and
  • Charred stove knobs.

Keep in mind that fires can also start in the microwave, so open it up and look for blackened areas that can be indicative of flame or smoke.

How to Interpret Signs of Fire

Again, nearly everyone has dealt with smoke or minor flames in the kitchen; it happens. The fact that your loved one accidentally forgot to pull a dish from the oven before it burned does not in itself mean that they are ready to go to an assisted living facility. However, if a fire or near-fire incident has occurred more than once, it may be time to start thinking about making a change. Repeated fires or smoke in the kitchen may mean that the elderly person is suffering from memory problems. If they have gone so far as to remove smoke detectors, this can be a sign that it is happening very often, and is becoming very dangerous. The risk of a fire that leads to significant injury or death is not worth it; have a serious conversation about what can be done to correct the problem.

You should have an honest conversation with the elderly person about what you’ve noticed in the kitchen in terms of signs of fire, and why you are concerned. Don’t be afraid to ask them about the incident(s), but be sure to be kind and open; you don’t want to put them on the defensive. At the very least, make sure there are working smoke detectors within the home, and think about whether moving your loved one to an assisted living facility is the safest option.

Sign #6: Increased Use of Take Out or Simpler Cooking

Anyone who has had a long day at work and is exhausted knows that cooking can be the last thing that you want to do; when we’re tired or feel like our faculties are burnt for the day, we like to choose more convenient options. If your loved one is eating out more or cooking simpler than normal, it may be because they sense decreased physical or mental abilities in themselves.
Takeout can be a delicious and convenient option, although we all know that takeout–for the most part–isn’t very good for us. Regardless, however, the argument can certainly be made that takeout now or then isn’t the worst thing in the world.On the same note, simpler cooking can also be convenient, fast, and even healthful, and certainly isn’t a bad thing in itself. However, when takeout and simpler cooking may be concerning is when they become routine, and when they are a large deviation from the normal food preparation and consumption habits of an elderly person. Indeed, if your aging loved one is eating takeout or preparing simple meals all the time (like just eggs or meals that don’t require cooking, such as cereal and milk), this may be one of the signs that it might be time for assisted living. Here’s why.

Takeout and Simple Cooking May Be Devoid of Nutrients

One reason to be concerned about the fact that your elderly loved one is hardly cooking for themselves anymore is that takeout meals and simply prepared meals are, in many cases, devoid of nutrients. In fact, not only may these meals be lacking vitamins and minerals, as well as balanced macronutrients, that your loved one needs for optimal health, but they may also be loaded with unhealthy or even dangerous additives. The last thing that you want for your loved one, especially if they are aging and suffering from a deterioration in health, is for the food that they’re eating to not be good for them.

Why the Switch to Takeout vs. Cooking?

Another thing to think about is why your elderly loved one has switched to takeout and simple meal preparation over the laborious and delicious cooking they used to love in the past. Are they suddenly very busy and have a packed social calendar, making taking the time to prepare meals more difficult? If this is not the case, try to figure out the why behind the change. Unfortunately, many elderly people will stop cooking for themselves because they no longer feel like they are physically able to do so, or worry about their mental faculties (like the fact that the last few times they cooked, they forgot to turn the stove off…)

In some cases, an elderly person may also stop preparing food for themselves because they are suffering from loneliness and depression. If an increase in the number of takeout meals or simpler meals is accompanied by other changes, such as failure to self-groom or a lack of desire to go out, this could be a sign of a mental health condition that shouldn’t go untreated. Elderly people’s loneliness can be bad for their health, and easing it can improve health and well-being.

It’s important that you take the time to talk to your elderly loved one about why the change has occurred. Again, if it’s because they’re so busy and having such a wonderful time in life that they just don’t have time to cook, you don’t need to raise the alarm, but should remind them of the benefits of fresh food and home-cooked meals; perhaps invite them over to your house for healthy food more often. If the change is because of a decline in mental or physical abilities, or because of loneliness or depression, action needs to be taken.

Is It Time to Consider an Assisted Living Facility for My Loved One?

Watching a loved one age, such as a parent or a grandparent, can be difficult to do. And as their health declines, it can be challenging to know when the right time is to intervene and suggest – or insist upon – assisted living.

While there is no easy answer, nor a “one size fits all” approach to making a decision about assisted living, there are some kitchen signs that may indicate a decline in wellbeing that could be dangerous if not acted upon. Indeed, kitchen signs that it may be time for assisted living include an increase in the number of takeout meal or simpler meal preparation, signs of fire, broken appliances, a freezer full of TV dinners, multiples of the same item, and stale or expired foods. These are often a sign of declining memory, or perhaps even a condition like depression. Often, signs of decline will extend beyond the kitchen too, so pay attention to how your loved one is keeping their house, and whether or not they appear to be declining in health (losing weight, failing to bathe, etc.).

If you do think that it is time for assisted living, be sure to do your research first. You want to find a facility with a good reputation, that is close to the home, and that meets your loved one’s needs.

Around-the-house signs it might be time for assisted living

Is it the right time to look into assisted living or home healthcare for your elderly relative or vulnerable loved one? This is a sensitive topic for families. It can sometimes be difficult to notice the signs that it might be time for assisted living. One of the biggest things that you should look for is a person’s day-to-day living environment. By taking a quick look at your loved one’s home, you may be able to discover some of the earliest warning signs that indicate that it is time to look into home healthcare.

At United Energy Workers Healthcare, our compassionate team of professionals provides top-quality, no-cost home healthcare services to EEOICPA and RECA beneficiaries. We want to make sure that all families have the information and tools that they need to get their vulnerable loved ones the assisted living help that they deserve. Here, we provide an overview of three common ‘around-the-house’ signs that suggest it is time to help your loved one explore their options for home healthcare.

Sign #1: Lots of Clutter

Sudden, ever-growing piles of clutter can be a major sign that there is something wrong. Of course, we all live in different environments. Some people have a natural inclination to throw away almost everything. Their home is always relatively neat and tidy. Other people feel more comfortable in a different type of environment, where some amount of clutter is not only normal, but welcome.

That being said, when clutter starts to pile up and the stacks begin to grow, that is often the sign that intervention is needed. If your aging loved one is suddenly living with ever more clutter, they may require some help managing their day-to-day life. Worse yet, that clutter may eventually become dangerous. It could become a serious tripping hazard.

In many ways, a person’s home is a reflection of their state of mind. We all want to live in a comfortable environment that is well-suited for our unique personality and our individual needs. As we age, it can sometimes be difficult to create and maintain the household environment that we truly desire.

Not only is living in an ill-suited environment stressful and uncomfortable, it can sometimes even be dangerous. Growing piles of household clutter is one of the early warning signs that it might be time for assisted living.

Growing Clutter Can Be a Sign of Cognitive Impairment and/or Physical Struggles

When you are examining the living space of your vulnerable loved one, you should look for changes. If their house or apartment looks that exact same way that it has always looked, then that may not be the sign of a problem. The big signs that you need to watch out for include a change in behavior or a change in lifestyle choices. When changes appear in this manner, you need to be sure to follow up and investigate as to exactly why those changes are occurring.

It is relatively common for older and vulnerable adults to start to develop a cluttered home later in life. This is one of the early warning sign that there is a cognitive impairment, a physical impairment, or some combination of both. Growing clutter should be taken as an indicator that some extra help is needed. In some cases, a little bit of assisted living help can go a long way towards ensuring that your loved one has the highest possible quality of life.

Household Clutter Can Be Dangerous

According to data provided by the National Council on Aging (NCOA), falls comprise the single leading cause of fatal and non-fatal accident injuries among older American adults. Nearly one in every four senior citizens is injured in a fall accident each year. This is a very serious issue. NCOA reports that an American adult is admitted into the emergency room after a fall injury once every 11 seconds. Worse yet, nearly 50 American adults die in fall accidents every day.

Not only are older, vulnerable people more likely to fall, but they also have a far more difficult time recovering from fall accident injuries. A seemingly minor fall could actually result in very serious injuries that will severely reduce a person’s quality of life for months, years, or even permanently. We need to work hard to eliminate fall hazards in the living spaces of vulnerable people.

Sadly, clutter is a serious hazard that often goes overlooked. As clutter grows, people simply forget where things are. There could be fall dangers developing all over a person’s house and in a wide range of different ways. If you are caring for an older parent or relative, you should always make sure that they are living in a safe environment, free from dangerous amounts of clutter.

Sign #2: Signs of Lax Housekeeping

Housekeeping is a far more challenging task than most people realize. For a person who is in peak physical condition, wiping down counters, mopping the floor, scrubbing windows, and putting away the dishes can be annoying, but it is not overly cumbersome. However, as we age, these tasks become far more taxing. Household chores can eventually become downright daunting. As a person who is caring for an elderly or vulnerable loved one, you should always keep an eye on their ability to do household chores. Is their housework getting done? Are they having trouble keeping up? If so, you need to figure out why that is happening. There is a very good chance that they are simply having a hard time performing those tasks. Additional help may be needed.

Housekeeping is a lot of work. With limited exceptions, it is generally not something that people enjoy doing. As we get older, housekeeping becomes less of a frustrating nuisance, and more of a challenging, cumbersome physical task. Of course, proper housekeeping is important at all ages. Being able to set your house in order, in the specific way that is best for you, will do a lot to improve your overall quality of life.

According to the National Institute on Aging (NIA), housekeeping is one of the biggest worries and concerns that many older Americans have. In many cases, there will come a point when you older or vulnerable relative will need some assistance with their household chores. This is a sign that it might be time for assisted living. Indeed, indicators of lax housekeeping should be taken as one of the earliest warning signs that it is time to help your loved one review their home healthcare options.

Watch for Changes in Your Loved One’s Housekeeping Habits

Everyone should live in a safe environment that is free from dangerous bacteria or unwelcome pests. Still, there is no one ‘right’ way to keep a house. For some people, that dust on a bookshelf or the smudge on a window can cause a tremendous amount of anxiety. They will not be able to truly relax and feel comfortable in their home until they clean it. For others, that dust is entirely irrelevant, and it may remain there for awhile.

Ultimately, the key thing that you need to watch for is a change is your loved one’s housekeeping habits. Certainly, a dirty, disgusting environment is always dangerous. If your vulnerable family member is living in unsanitary conditions, you need to get them help immediately. There are no exceptions. Though, if you are in the early stages of looking for signs that they might need assisted living care, you need to watch out for some of the more subtle changes. Are dishes started to pile up in the sink when used to always be cleaned the same day? Is that basket of laundry overflowing when it never used be that way? Does the entire place look somewhat dirty when it used to be spotless? If you notice signs that housekeeping is getting worse, it could be time to look into getting assisted care for your loved one.

Poor Housekeeping Can Be Unsafe

For many different reasons, lax housekeeping has the potential to be a serious safety hazard. To start, growing piles of clutter become a tripping hazard. All of that stuff that starts to build up may eventually make it difficult for an older person to get safely around their home. In addition, lax housekeeping often leads to very unsanitary conditions. In the worst cases, this can turn into an extreme problem. Your loved one may even be living in an environment with food waste or bathroom waste that can attract pests and harmful bacteria. Finally, a dirty environment is generally an unpleasant environment. If a person cannot keep up on their housekeeping, it can do serious damage to their mental health.

Sign#3: Bathroom Grime and Clutter

One of the first places you should look in someone’s home is the bathroom. Is the grime and clutter starting to build up? If so, it is a surefire sign that additional assistance is needed. A dirty, cluttered bathroom is not just unpleasant, it is a safety hazard. First, a cluttered bathroom is difficult to maneuver in. A huge percentage of a senior citizen falls occur in the bathroom. Further, a dirty, grimy bathroom is simply not sanitary. It will dramatically increase the possibility that a vulnerable person will develop an illness, infection, or another type of medical problem.

There are few things worse than being forced to go inside of a dirty, unsanitized bathroom. Imagine being forced to do that day-in and day-out. No one should live in those type of conditions. After all, the bathroom is the place where we go to clean ourselves, and no one wants to wash up in a dirty, potentially dangerous room. As described by WebMD, bathrooms have the potential to have an enormous number of harmful germs and bacteria. Proper bathroom maintenance is a key part of living in a healthy, safe environment. This is especially true for people who are at-risk, either due to advanced age or another medical condition.

Of course, as anyone who has ever cleaned a bathroom knows, it is not an easy task. On some days, you may even be forced to put on a pair of rubber gloves and get on your hands and knees to really scrub out the grime. Cleaning a bathroom can be physically and mentally draining. As people age, it can sometimes become an almost impossible task. People do not just put it off because it is generally unpleasant; they put it off because cleaning a bathroom is too hard to do alone.

This is why bathroom grime and clutter is one of the earliest warning signs that it might be time for assisted living. If you are caring for an older parent or relative, you should take a quick look at their bathroom when you visit them. Be sure that it is nice, clean, and in proper working order. If you notice problems, it may be time for you to take action to help them create a better, more healthy living environment.  

Cleaning a Bathroom is a Physically Challenging Task

Keeping a bathroom clean and free of all of the random clutter is a challenging task. Think about all of the things that are involved with caring for a bathroom: scrubbing the shower, cleaning the sink, scrubbing the toilet, fixing any clogged drains, cleaning the floors, and using the limited available cabinet space to organize all of the clutter. Needless to say, this is not easy. No matter what type of shape you are in, it takes some degree mental focus and physical dexterity. For people who have some form of physical or cognitive impairment, taking care of a bathroom can simply be overwhelming.

It Can Be Hard to Ask for Help

For aging adults, asking for help can be a difficult thing to do. It is not easy to lose your full independence and need to rely on other people. Many people are inherently resistant to looking into their options for home healthcare. This issue always needs to be treated with extreme sensitivity. When it comes to bathroom-related issues, asking for help can be even more challenging. It is hard for seniors to tell their loved ones that they are struggling to keep their bathroom in order. In general, you should not expect that your loved one is going to bring up the issue with you. You need to be ready to take proactive steps with your loved one, always addressing the issue with the careful sensitivity that it deserves.

Watch for the Around-the-House Signs that it Might Time for Assisted Living

At United Energy Workers Healthcare, we are committed to providing support for EEOICPA and RECA beneficiaries. When it comes to home healthcare, it is crucial to remain proactive. There are many signs that might suggest that it is time to explore all of the available assisted living options for your loved one. Among other things, you should always keep a close look on the common ‘around-the-house’ signs that indicate that your vulnerable family member needs help. Those signs include:  

  • Growing piles of clutter in the home;
  • Signs that their housekeeping skills are falling; and
  • Grime or clutter piling up in the bathroom.

In the event that your family has noticed that one of these signs, or any other worrying sign, applies to your loved one’s situation, it is time to take action. Your next step is to follow up on the matter and investigate exactly what is going on. While discussing assisted living and home healthcare is a very sensitive issue, it is something that needs to be addressed. Early intervention is the key to a successful outcome. You can help your loved one find the answer that is the best fit for the specific situation. To get more information about home healthcare or assisted living, please do not hesitate to contact the compassionate professionals at United Energy Workers Healthcare. We look forward to assisting you and your family.

Home Maintenance Signs it Might Be Time for Assisted Living

As Americans, we put a lot of time and energy into improving our homes. According to the most recent data provided by Statista, home improvement is now a $409 billion industry in the United States. Of course, as people age, all of those lofty home improvement projects start to get pushed to the side. For vulnerable people, even the most basic home maintenance projects can be extremely challenging.

At United Energy Workers Healthcare, we are strong advocates for EEOICPA beneficiaries and RECA beneficiaries throughout the United States. We know how important it is to make sure that your loved one gets early access to the best available home healthcare options. Here, we provide an overview of some of the home maintenance signs that might indicate that it is time for you and your family member to look into all of their options for assisted living support.

Sign#1: Signs of Neglect

Even the most basic of home maintenance projects can take a considerable amount of effort. This certainly is not a surprise to anyone who is a homeowner; they no doubt understand how difficult general home upkeep can be. For an older person, home maintenance can become extremely difficult. To make matters even more challenging, once you fall behind on your home maintenance, those projects can be hard to restart again. To support your loved one, please watch for any signs of home maintenance neglect or inattention. Remember, these can often be the earliest warning signs that your loved one needs additional support in other areas of daily life.

If you are watching out for the health and safety of an elderly parent or any other vulnerable loved one, you should be sure to keep a close eye on the environment that they are living in. One of the earliest indications that a vulnerable person may be ready to explore their available options for assisted living is that they are starting to neglect basic home maintenance tasks.

At United Energy Workers Healthcare, our team of compassionate professionals is committed to providing top-quality home healthcare support for EEOICPA and RECA beneficiaries throughout the United States. Here, we provide a brief overview of the key signs that it might be time for assisted living.

Your Checklist: Six Signs of Home Maintenance Neglect

  • Overgrown or Shabby Yard Work: When you visit your loved one’s home, one of the very first things you should do is to take a brief walk through their lawn and around their yard. When is the last time the grass was cut? Is the yard generally in reasonably good shape? If things are starting to become overgrown to the point that the house looks abandoned, your loved one needs some additional help.
  • Discolored Siding or Chipped Paint: On the house itself, you should take a look at the paint or the siding. Of course, not every house is going to be in perfect condition, and it is normal for some wear and tear to occur, but if the siding is heavily damaged, or the paint is truly starting to fall off, that could be the sign of a much bigger problem.
  • Clogged Gutters: As noted by AXA Insurance, clogged gutters can potentially cause very serious damage to a person’s home. Cleaning out gutters is a basic, albeit challenging form of home maintenance. This is not to say that your elderly relative should be up on a ladder cleaning out difficult-to-reach gutters all by themselves. That is extremely dangerous. Instead, they need access to help so that they can get their gutters cleaned.
  • Leaking Ceilings: You should examine the home’s roof and ceilings. Is there any evidence that water has been leaking? If so, that is a serious issue. Immediate action must be taken to fix any problems with the ceiling. A leaky roof is not just unpleasant, it is a wholly unsafe environment for a vulnerable person.
  • Dirty or Broken Windows: After the ceilings, you should next move to the home’s windows. Keeping windows in good condition is not easy. If your loved one has dirty or broken windows, that means that action should be taken to follow up on the issue.
  • Any Other Unusual or Troubling Signs: Finally, you should also look for any other unusual sign that suggests that home maintenance is being neglected. These signs can come in a wide range of different forms. Any and all problems should be addressed immediately. It is crucial that you follow up on signs of home neglect because those signs may indicate that there are much deeper problems. Your loved one may be ready for more intensive home healthcare services.

Sign #2: Are the Newspapers in the Bushes?

If your loved one has newspapers piling up in their bushes, or you see any other unusual signs that suggest that something is ‘off’, you need to take action. A simple task for a younger person like retrieving the morning newspaper can be downright daunting for some people. If your loved one cannot get the newspaper each day, you need to figure out all of the other tasks that they are also having trouble completing. It may be the right time to help them look into their options for home healthcare.

Over the last several years, we have all read stories about the decline of the print newspaper. Indeed, it is one of the most remarked upon social trends in American life. While the trend is undoubtedly real, a large number of U.S. households still receive a local or national newspaper each morning. In fact, according to the most recent data provided by the Pew Research Center, more than 30 millions newspapers are delivered across the country each day.

Notably, print newspapers are disproportionately delivered to older Americans. You may not realize it, but what happens to your loved one’s daily newspaper can tell you a considerable amount of information about their ability to care for themselves. Here, we provide an overview of one of the key warning signs that might indicate your loved one needs home healthcare services: finding newspapers in the bushes.

Retrieving the Daily Newspaper Can Be a Challenging Task

Going out and picking up the newspaper from the yard each day is not a difficult task for most people. That is not to say it is without its frustrations. It is certainly annoying to have to get the paper when your paperboy tosses it in the yard, sometimes landing nowhere close to your front door or mailbox.

However, for an older person or someone who has restricted mobility, going out and picking up the newspaper can be far more than a daily annoyance; it can be a daunting task. When you visit your loved one’s home, you should take a look at their front yard to see if the newspaper is making it inside each day. If you are finding stacks of newspapers outside, whether in the bushes, or simply sitting besides the porch steps, that might be an indication that your loved one is having some trouble managing their day-to-day activities. You need to figure out exactly why they are not retrieving the paper each day.

Look for Other Unusual Signs that it Might Be Time for Assisted Living

Beyond just looking for the newspaper, you should also look for any other unusual things that catch your eye. How is your loved one faring with their overall home maintenance tasks? Are the day-to-day chores getting done? Things like dishes, laundry, and sweeping the floor can all be difficult for vulnerable people to do.

You should also take a look at some of the more sporadic and long-term home maintenance tasks. For example, if your family member’s kitchen sink started to leak, do they know what to do to get the problem fixed? Likewise, if their shower is suddenly out of hot water, do they know where to turn to fix the problem?

Be sure to take a trip around the entire house and make sure that all of the home maintenance is getting done. If you see any unusual issues, you should not only be ready to fix that specific problem, but you should also be ready follow up more broadly in order to determine what type of additional help your loved one needs.

Sign #3:Overflowing Mailbox

How a person manages their mail can tell you a lot about how they manage their life. A few unopened letters are not particularly meaningful. Very few people actually get to all of their mail every morning. However, if your older parent or elderly relative is consistently allowing their letters and packages to pile up in and around their mailbox, you are seeing evidence that suggests there might be a far bigger problem. In general, there are only two reasons why this will occur:

  • Getting the mail each day is too physically challenging; or
  • They are simply forgetting to get the mail.

If you are providing support for an elderly parent or older relative, you should always keep a close watch on their mailbox. How they are managing their mailbox can tell you a lot about how they are managing their day-to-day life. A person who is having a hard time managing their mail may be a person who needs some extra help in certain other activities.

At United Energy Workers Healthcare, our team of professionals is proud to offer the best assisted living care to beneficiaries of EEOICPA and RECA. We want to make sure that you know when to take action to get your loved one the home healthcare services that they need. If your loved one has a large amount of packages and letters piling up in their mailbox, this may be a sign that it is time for assisted living.

Unopened Mail Can Be the Sign of a Major Problem

Each time you visit your elderly parent or relative, you should check out their mailbox. If there are days (or worse, weeks) worth of packages or letters piled up in the mailbox, it could be a sign that they need some assistance with basic day-to-day activities. If the mail is piling up outside, it means your loved one does not even retrieve it each day. Why not? Is it too physically challenging? Did they simply forget? If they are struggling with managing their mail, it begs the question of what other daily tasks they are having trouble with.

Of course, just because a person has stacks of unopened mail does not necessarily mean that there is a problem. A lot of people fail to open all of their mail. According to recent research from New York University (NYU) School of Law, nearly one half of all the mail delivered in the United States is ‘junk mail’. Much of that junk mail never gets opened, and it is very easy for it to pile up in the corner of someone’s home. Still, when that mail never even makes it out of the mailbox at all, it could be a sign of a major problem. You should follow up on the issue.

Watch for the Home Maintenance Signs that Indicate It is Time for Assisted Living

In general, pieces of mail that have not been opened for a few days or a few weeks does not necessarily represent a problem for your loved one. This may be routine for them, or they may have been busy with other tasks and simply unable to get to the mail in their home. That being said, it is important to remain extremely vigilant whenever this type of situation arises; to be sure, while a few pieces of mail piled up in the house may be harmless, it might also represent a serious problem that your elderly loved one is becoming unable to fully take care of themselves and live a high-quality life. While you do not need to jump to conclusions, this is the perfect time to begin considering the available options for assisted living to ensure your elderly loved one is cared for in the proper manner.

At United Energy Workers Healthcare, we firmly believe that every American family should have access to the information and resources to provide the best possible assisted care support for their most vulnerable loved ones. You should be sure to always watch out for any signs that indicate that it might be time to look into home healthcare services for vulnerable family members. Some home maintenance signs that suggest there might be a problem include:

  • An overgrown lawn or shabby looking yard;
  • General signs of home maintenance-related neglect;
  • Newspapers left in the bushes; and
  • Stacks of unopened letters in the mailbox.

In the event that you are noticing some of these home maintenance signs, this suggests that there might be far deeper problems. With home health care and assisted living, the sooner you take action to protect the health and well being of your vulnerable loved one, the better off they will be. Don’t hesitate to reach out to us today and learn how we can provide support for you and your family.

In either circumstance, that stack of mail that is being left in the mailbox could be an indication that it is time to consider the available options for assisted living.

 Pet-Care and Plant-Care Signs it Might Be Time for Assisted Living

Pets are a huge part of life for many American families. According to the most recent data provided by Gallup, more than 60 percent of U.S. households own at least one pet. Even in households where there is no pet, many people own plants. As a society, a huge percentage of us have living things in our homes that are wholly reliant on us.

As people start to age, caring for pets and plants can become far more challenging. In fact, poor pet care and plant care is one of the most prominent early warning signs that a person may need assisted living help.

At United Energy Workers Healthcare, we are proud to offer the very best home healthcare services to beneficiaries of EEOICPA and RECA. We want to make sure that every family has the information that they need to get their loved one the best assisted living care.

Sign #1: Neglected Pets

No matter what type of pet a person owns, providing proper care can be difficult. By far the most popular pets in the United States are dogs and cats: 45 percent of U.S. households have at least one dog and 29 percent of U.S. households own at least one cat. With either type of pet, it can be physically and mentally taxing to provide proper care.

For dogs, the animal needs to be fed, groomed, walked, and given attention. For cats, grooming, feeding, and taking care of the litter box are key tasks. In addition, pets can even be a hazard around the house for vulnerable people. Pets are actually one of the leading in-home tripping hazards in our country. For older people, a pet could potentially cause an accident. That is not to say that pets need to be removed from a vulnerable adult’s home. Quite the contrary: pets can provide incredibly valuable companionship.

The point is that as someone who cares for an elderly parent or vulnerable adult, you need to keep a close eye on their pets. If there is any sign that they have trouble caring for their pet, you need to take action. In some cases, only a little help is required. For example, maybe a grandchild or a young neighbor will need to take over the dog’s morning walk. However, in other cases, lax pet care is a sign that it is time to look into a person’s options for assisted living.

For many people, pets become true members of their family. According to the 2017-2018 National Pet Owners Survey, the overwhelming majority of pet owners report that they feel a strong connection to their animal. For older adults and vulnerable people, the connection with their pet can be incredibly valuable. At the same time, pet care is not easy: it can be both physically and emotionally taxing.  

Unfortunately, as the years go by, a person’s pet care ability may start to lapse. When this happens, it is a strong warning sign that it might be time for assisted living. At United Energy Workers Healthcare, we are committed to offering the very best options for assisted living to families throughout the United States. Our team wants to make sure that your family has all the information needed to make the best decisions. Here, we highlight what you should look for when it comes to pet care.

Proper Pet Care is Challenging

Proper pet care is not easy. Whether you are dealing with an energetic puppy that needs a seemingly endless amount of attention, or an older cat that spends most of the day on the window ledge, there is a considerable amount of work involved in making sure that the animal is treated correctly. Among other things, pet owners must:

  • Make trips to the store to buy food;
  • Carry and open the pet food;
  • Remember to feed the animal at the appropriate time;
  • Properly groom the animal;
  • Take the dog out for walks;
  • Clean the litter box of the cat;
  • Remove pet hair and dander from their home; and
  • Give the animal the attention that it needs to thrive.

For an elderly person or vulnerable adult, all of these chores can be draining. There could be a situation in which the animal’s safety is in jeopardy because a person cannot give it the care that it needs. Lack of pet care is a strong sign that a person needs some help. What type of assisted living or home healthcare support that individual will need will depend on the specific circumstances of the situation. Regardless, if your vulnerable loved one’s animals do not appear to be well tended or cared for, you need to be ready to take action. Your loved one may need help managing their day-to-day activities and may be in need of some type of assisted living.

Watch for the Pet Care and Plant Care Signs that Suggest it is Time for Assisted Care

Ultimately, as this guide has shown there are a number of different signs related to pet care and plant care that may indicate that it might be time for assisted living for your loved one. Specifically, if you notice any of the following with your elderly loved one, don’t hesitate to consider the available options for assisted living:

  • Plants that are dying, dead, or gone altogether; and/or
  • Animals that do not seem like they are receiving the proper care that they need.

Either of these two could indicate a serious problem, and the presence of one or both should act as a warning sign that immediate action needs to be taken to help your loved one. If you notice any dead or dying plants around their house, any signs of animal neglect, or various other signs that show a decreased ability to take care of their home, it is important that you act quickly and consider the options for assisted living.

At United Energy Workers Healthcare, our family wants to make sure that your family has access to all of the available resources to get your vulnerable loved one the best home healthcare. With assisted living, early intervention is the key to getting the best results. The sooner you get your vulnerable loved one the support that they need, the better off they will be. Among the other things to watch for, please be sure to keep an eye on pet care and plant care. If either one is beginning to be a problem, you need to follow up on the issue. It may be time to look into all of the available options for home health care or assisted living.

Don’t hesitate to contact us today. We are eager to help you find the assistance that your loved one truly needs.

Sign #2: Dying Plants

Most of us have had plants die. It happens. However, a house with many dying plants may be a sign that a person needs additional help. The most important thing that you need to watch for is changes in a person’s plant-care ability. For example, if your mother has kept her plants in pristine condition for decades, and all of a sudden they are starting to die, you need to investigate the source of the problem. When an older or vulnerable adult starts getting worse at plant care, that is a warning sign that it might be time for assisted living.

Many people have plants in and around there home. This can be highly beneficial for vulnerable people: there are scientifically proven health advantages to having indoor plants. Among other things, indoor plants can improve air quality and reduce stress. For many people, well-tended indoor plants or a nice outdoor garden can provide considerable psychological benefits.

Still, plant upkeep can be difficult for older adults. One of the earliest warning signs that it might be time for assisted living is dying or dead plants. At United Energy Workers Healthcare, we work hard to offer the best options for assisted living to vulnerable people throughout the country. Here, our team of dedicated professionals explains what you should look for when it comes to your loved one’s ability to provide plant care.

Caring for Plants is More Taxing Than You Might Think

On the surface level, plant care may not seem to be that difficult. Compared to raising children, caring for a dog or a cat, and even caring for one’s self, plant care seems to be simple. However, for vulnerable people, proper plant care is far more challenging than you may realize. This is especially true if your loved one has a large number of plants or especially complex outdoor plants. With plant care, there are two primary issues that need to be considered:

  1. Does your loved one have the physical strength, dexterity, and endurance to take care of all of their plants?
  2. Does your loved one have the mental capacity to remember to care for the plants on an ongoing basis?

When physical or mental faculties began to deteriorate, effective plant care can become an issue. This is notable because poor plant care is one of the early warning signs of growing problem. This is why it requires a response.    

You Should Watch for Changes in Plant Care Habits

If you are like most people, you probably have someone in your life whose has plants that always seem to be dying. That person might even be you, or it might be your elderly parent. If your mother’s plants have been in poor shape for last four decades, then signs of bad plant care might not actually be a problem at all. With plant care, the thing you really want to watch for is changes in a person’s habits or abilities. When a change occurs, that is a major sign that something is going on.

If your father has kept his lawn or garden in great condition for years, and now all of a sudden the weeds are starting to sprout, you need to take action. That change in behavior should be taken as the sign that additional assistance might be needed. If caring for the plants has become too taxing for your loved one, it begs the question: what other things are they starting to struggle with? At this time, it is a good idea to sensitively broach the issue with them. You need to make sure that they are getting all of the support that they need so that they can live with the highest possible quality of life.

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In order to be eligible for EEOICPA/RECA benefits, an individual must have been employed at a covered Department of Energy facility, an approved atomic weapons facility, or at a permitted beryllium vendor. An individual must also have one of the covered conditions as a result of exposure to radiation, beryllium, or silica while employed at an accepted facility. In addition, uranium miners, millers, and ore transporters are eligible for benefits if they develop an illness as a result of exposure to toxic substances (such as radiation, chemicals, solvents, acids, and metals) and worked at a facility covered under RECA. Eligibility requirements vary by location and condition.