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Using the Five Senses When Visiting Senior Relatives this Holiday Season

As seniors grow older, it's important to be aware of how the aging process affects their daily lives. Aging causes changes that have a direct impact on the health and well-being of seniors. Some of these changes are so subtle they may go unnoticed, even by the senior.

Maintaining good health is vital for seniors who want to live independently in their own homes. Unfortunately, the natural aging process -- as well as certain medical conditions -- can affect a senior's ability to safely live alone. Therefore, evaluating the health of your senior loved one is critical -- especially if she lives by herself.

There are ways to make these evaluations without hurting, offending or devaluing the senior as an individual. We made it easy for you by providing the following advice on how to use your five senses to assess your loved one's care needs.

Sight
Take a good look at the senior's appearance when you visit to ensure he is wearing clean clothes and performing his usual grooming. Signs that this may not be happening include wrinkled clothing, bad breath or unkempt hair and face. Also look at his home. Is it orderly and clean or dusty and cluttered?

Sound
The way a senior speaks may give you a clue as to her mental state. Does she speak the way you would typically expect? Can she say your name? Are you able to discuss activities, current events or future plans with your loved one? If not, there may be an underlying issue that has nothing to do with the natural aging process and warrants attention.

Smell
Your nose can detect body odor as well as other smells throughout your loved one's home that may signal trouble.

Taste
Tasting his food can help you determine if it is fresh or spoiled. Also be sure to check the expiration dates on food in the refrigerator. Explore his medicine cabinet and remove expired medications.

Touch
Simply hugging or putting your arm around your loved ones can help you judge their weight and fragility. Holding hands or touching an arm helps determine skin quality.

If you find any inconsistencies or abnormalities after putting your senses to the test, it may be time to consider an alternative care plan for your loved one. This does not necessarily mean moving her into an assisted living facility. Many seniors are able to meet the challenge of living safely in their own homes even after some of the above warning signs become present. Detecting these signs may simply mean they need an extra hand helping with their daily routines.

If you are unable to provide help for your loved one, check into local home care agencies that can help. These companies employ techniques designed to assist seniors in ways that make it possible for you to maintain peace of mind, while offering your senior loved one the independence of safely living at home for as long as possible.

 

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