1. Finances not in order: Look around for unpaid bills or piles of mail. While you are visiting, there may also be a call from a collections agency. Keep in mind, too, that older adults are often the targets for scammers both by phone and through the mail. Keep an eye on the type of mail coming in the door and make sure you’re aware of the latest scams. Seabury Care Management can recommend and also arrange for a bill payer to work with your family member to keep finances up to date.
2. Less participation in social activities: Are they still going to activities that they’ve always engaged in like Wednesday afternoon bridge club, or morning services? It may be a lack in transportation-perhaps they’re more concerned about driving, or there are no transportation options. Or it may be indicative of something broader, perhaps there are cognitive issues and they are having difficulty coordinating the activity. Remaining engaged in activities and the routine that comes with them are important for maintaining brain health. A care manager can help ascertain what the challenge is and how to make it work.
3. Sticky notes all over: We all leave ourselves sticky notes. However, when the sticky notes start appearing in places they’ve never been before, this may be an indicator that the issue is worsening. Seabury’s care managers help families determine if there is a memory issue and assist the family as they make plans to address the progression of dementia.
4. Unexplained dents or scrapes on the car: Are there new dents or scrapes on the car? There are resources that will assess the driving skills of older adults. The goal is to make sure older adults are driving safely. A care manager can connect families with these programs and assist with finding options as they are needed.
5. Housekeeping lacking or refrigerator a mess: Is a normally neat and tidy house looking less like the home you remember? Take a look! Is the refrigerator full of half eaten or expired and rotting food? Or is there no food at all? The explanation may be simple, it may be time to coordinate some in home services that can assist. A care manager can evaluate what services are needed and deliver them to their home.
6. Forgetting to take medications or the pill tray is clearly not being managed well: For example, it’s Thursday, however, Monday and Wednesday pills are gone but Tuesday’s pills are still in the box. Or mom puts out her medication to take it at breakfast and its’ still on the table at dinner time. It may be time to find a little oversight to ensure things are managed. A care manager can assist.
Christine Bitzer, LICSW, is the Assistant Director of Seabury Resources for Aging’s Care Management service. Care managers work with older adults on an individual basis to advise them on a variety of issues and services; such as home care, transportation, medical/legal assistance and housing. Families are put at ease having a knowledgeable guide to provide recommendations and resources to meet their unique needs. This expertise can save families money and reduce stress and time away from work. Christine can be reached at (202) 364-9663 or email her at CBitzer@seaburyresources.org