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Tips for identifying needs when working with older people

Identifying the needs of older people can be difficult, especially if you are working with older people or just trying to help parents or other family members.

Your parents will often reassure you that everything is fine because they don’t want you to worry about them. The truth is, they may not want your help and really feel like they don’t need it.

You are in a difficult situation because you do not want to meddle in your affairs, but you are beginning to realize that you may need help. Here are some tips to help assess the situation objectively:

#1 When you enter the house, what is your first reaction? Does the house seem too hot or cold? Are the rooms unduly stuffy or dark? Do the blinds and curtains go down at noon for no apparent reason?

#2 Is there a smell in the home? The elderly often have urinary problems and may have stained clothing or even drips on the bathroom floor. Due to loss of vision and sensory perceptions, they may not be aware of the problem themselves.

#3 How is the kitchen, do you wash the dishes? Now, let’s be real here; if you come to my house unannounced, you might find dirty dishes or some unfinished chores. However, when they start to build up, it could be a problem. Observe unwashed dishes; Is there dry food on them? Is there food left on the counter from the last meal?

#4 Check out the fridge. Are leftovers stored without lids? Are the fruits and vegetables wilted or spoiled? Check that the seasonings are stored correctly and that they are not too old to use.

#5 If possible, check medicine cabinets or medicine drawers. Check dates to determine if prescriptions are filled correctly and taken as prescribed. You may need to contact your doctor or pharmacist.

#6 Is the trash emptied or are all the trash cans overflowing? Are the tables and chairs littered with papers, mail, and magazines?

#7 When visiting a parent or loved one you don’t visit often, learn to focus on behavior changes or cleanliness. Do you see signs of increased neglect in any of the above areas? What has changed since your last visit?

#8 If you’re concerned about mail being handled correctly and bills being paid on time, you may need to contact your utility companies to make sure they’re up to date.

Recognizing the need for help is a start. Once you know what the real needs are, you can seek help to meet those needs. It’s good to have a little notebook to write down any changes you notice.

Today we are lucky to have access to many agencies that work with older people. Knowing the extent of your situation is essential to ensure an adequate response to our questions when we seek advice.

Whether the elderly are family or friends and neighbors, please respect their privacy and honor their wishes as much as possible. At the same time, do your best to correctly assess the situation so that you can get the help you need.

By taking the time to objectively look at your entire household and personal needs, you can determine whether or not the need can be met with part-time help. If the situation calls for more drastic measures, you will be prepared to help meet that need.

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