Pixel Tracker

Tuesday, January 22 , 2019, 10:01 am | Fair 57º

Your Health
A Noozhawk partnership with Cottage Health

Recognizing Signs Your Aging Loved One Needs Assistance

What to do when holiday visits expose new needs

For those who live far from their parents, the holidays are often a happy time of family reunions and catching up. But as loved ones age, this can also be a time of unpleasant surprises for those who discover that their aging loved one is showing signs of decline.

“Aging adults that are facing new limitations often try to avoid drawing attention to themselves,” said Tina Kreider, owner of Right at Home in Santa Barbara. “It’s not uncommon for an out-of-town relative to be unaware of the changes their loved ones are facing. Holiday family gatherings can be a good time to assess how your loved one is doing.”

But even if a loved one is experiencing new changes or challenges with age, are these changes serious? There are some key signs to look for that a loved one may benefit from in-home assistance.

First, make sure your loved one is continuing to look after his or her personal appearance and hygiene as well as before. Warning signs could include wearing the same clothes over and over or neglecting to brush teeth. If your loved one is taking medications, watch to make sure he or she remembers when to take them and knows what each is for. If he or she is not eating properly, there also may be weight loss.

If visiting with your loved one at his or her home, you should also look for signs of neglect in the house. If the home looks that it is not getting its usual care, it could be that regular, simple maintenance chores such as dusting are not being performed. Keep an eye out for piles of unpaid — or even unopened — bills. Avoiding tasks such as this could be a sign that once manageable tasks have become overwhelming for your loved one. Keep a lookout for burned pots and pans, as well as food that is past its expiration date or molding.

Additional signs of a problem may be that your loved one is not taking proper care of a pet, is avoiding steps or having difficulty with them, or has limited contact with the outside world. If you see these signs in your loved one, it is time to speak up. You may not want to breach the subject during the holidays, but don’t wait too long.

“Planning for a loved one’s future needs as they age can be difficult and emotional for everyone involved. But it’s an important conversation to have to ensure those you care about get the help and care they need in the way they want it,” Kreider said. “The earlier you start the conversation, the easier transitions will be when they’re needed.”

Prepare what you want to say to your loved one beforehand, and focus on “I” statements that express your concern to help him or her maintain the life desired. Bring other family members into the discussion during the early stages so everyone is on the same page. This can spare you and your loved ones much discord later. If you expect it to be a difficult conversation, some experts recommend introducing the topic briefly and then agreeing on a later time to discuss in more detail after everyone has had time to reflect. Another option to consider is bringing in a mediator or geriatric consultant to weigh in and keep the conversation peaceful.

There are many options available for seniors in need of assistance. Sometimes, the assistance of a family or friend caregiver is enough. Other times, this is not practical, particularly if family members live too far away or are already overcommitted. If more comprehensive care is needed, there are assisted living facilities and nursing homes — or, if your loved one wishes to stay at home, you will want to consider an in-home care service such as Right at Home.

“Ultimately, no single isolated sign necessarily means your loved one is in trouble,” Kreider said. “After spending time with your loved one, take a gut check. Sometimes you can feel a change in a person even if you can’t articulate it. Trust yourself. And in the meantime, enjoy your time together and celebrate.”

Founded in 1995, Right at Home offers in-home companion and personal care and assistance to seniors and disabled adults who want to continue to live independently. It serves the communities of Carpinteria, Montecito, Santa Barbara, Goleta, Santa Ynez Valley, Buellton and Lompoc. For more information, click here, call 805.962.0555 or e-mail .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).

— Tina Kreider is owner of Right at Home in Santa Barbara.

Support Noozhawk Today

You are an important ally in our mission to deliver clear, objective, high-quality professional news reporting for Santa Barbara, Goleta and the rest of Santa Barbara County. Join the Hawks Club today to help keep Noozhawk soaring.

We offer four membership levels: $5 a month, $10 a month, $25 a month or $1 a week. Payments can be made using a credit card, Apple Pay or Google Pay, or click here for information on recurring credit-card payments and a mailing address for checks.

Thank you for your vital support.

Become a Noozhawk Supporter

First name
Last name
Select your monthly membership
Or choose an annual membership

Payment Information

Membership Subscription

You are enrolling in . Thank you for joining the Hawks Club.

Payment Method

Pay by Credit Card:

Mastercard, Visa, American Express, Discover
One click only, please!

Pay with Apple Pay or Google Pay:

Noozhawk partners with Stripe to provide secure invoicing and payments processing.
You may cancel your membership at any time by sending an email to .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).

  • Ask
  • Vote
  • Investigate
  • Answer

Noozhawk Asks: What’s Your Question?

Welcome to Noozhawk Asks, a new feature in which you ask the questions, you help decide what Noozhawk investigates, and you work with us to find the answers.

Here’s how it works: You share your questions with us in the nearby box. In some cases, we may work with you to find the answers. In others, we may ask you to vote on your top choices to help us narrow the scope. And we’ll be regularly asking you for your feedback on a specific issue or topic.

We also expect to work together with the reader who asked the winning questions to find the answer together. Noozhawk’s objective is to come at questions from a place of curiosity and openness, and we believe a transparent collaboration is the key to achieve it.

The results of our investigation will be published here in this Noozhawk Asks section. Once or twice a month, we plan to do a review of what was asked and answered.

Thanks for asking!

Click Here to Get Started >

Reader Comments

Noozhawk is no longer accepting reader comments on our articles. Click here for the announcement. Readers are instead invited to submit letters to the editor by emailing them to [email protected]. Please provide your full name and community, as well as contact information for verification purposes only.


Special Reports

Heroin Rising
<p>Lizette Correa shares a moment with her 9-month-old daughter, Layla, outside their Goleta home. Correa is about to graduate from Project Recovery, a program of the Santa Barbara Council on Alcoholism & Drug Abuse, and is determined to overcome her heroin addiction — for herself and for her daughter. “I look at her and I think ‘I need to be here for her and I need to show her an example, I don’t want her to see me and learn about drugs’,” she says.</p>

In Struggle to Get Clean, and Stay That Way, Young Mother Battles Heroin Addiction

Santa Barbara County sounds alarm as opiate drug use escalates, spreads into mainstream population
Safety Net Series
<p>Charles Condelos, a retired banker, regularly goes to the Santa Barbara Neighborhood Clinics for his primary care and to renew his prescription for back pain medication. He says Dr. Charles Fenzi, who was treating him that day at the Westside Clinic, and Dr. Susan Lawton are some of the best people he’s ever met.</p>

Safety Net: Patchwork of Clinics Struggles to Keep Santa Barbara County Healthy

Clinics that take all comers a lifeline for low-income patients, with new health-care law about to feed even more into overburdened system. First in a series
Prescription for Abuse
<p>American Medical Response emergency medical technicians arrive at Santa Barbara Cottage Hospital with little time to spare for victims of prescription drug overdoses.</p>

Quiet Epidemic of Prescription Drug Abuse Taking a Toll on Santa Barbara County

Evidence of addiction shows an alarming escalation, Noozhawk finds in Prescription for Abuse special report
Mental Health
<p>Rich Detty and his late wife knew something was wrong with their son, Cliff, but were repeatedly stymied in their attempts to get him help from the mental health system. Cliff Detty, 46, died in April while in restraints at Santa Barbara County’s Psychiatric Health Facility.</p>

While Son Struggled with Mental Illness, Father Fought His Own Battle

Cliff Detty's death reveals scope, limitations of seemingly impenetrable mental health system. First in a series