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  • Writer's pictureWestwood Homecare

Signs your loved one may need a carer - and how Westwood Homecare can help

At Westwood Homecare, we put our patients and their families at the heart of everything we do. We understand better than anybody that the realisation a loved one is slowing down and may need help and support with day-to-day life can be an incredibly heart-wrenching, daunting decision, and is often a life-changing decision to make. As a devoted and passionate homecare provider, we take pride in our carers and the phenomenal work they do to support and enrich the lives of those who need them most.

Growing old is a fact of life, but that doesn't mean to say that we should have to give up doing the things that have ignited a spark in us throughout our lives. As we age, we often notice that our parents, or a close friend or relative, has started to slow down and lose interest in the very activities that brought them the most joy. They may start to behave differently, showing signs of confusion and forgetfulness, eat less, or lose confidence in themselves and their ability to perform basic tasks for themselves and around their home. Whatever your loved one's needs, Westwood Homecare provides tailored care packages to suit every healthcare need, working with patients and their families across Manchester, Bolton, Stockport and Liverpool to ensure every need is met and every life is lived to the full. Here are some tell-tale signs your loved one may need additional care, and how we can help you to help them:

Forgetfulness, confusion and wandering

One of the earliest warning signs that a loved one may be starting to decline is a sudden increase in forgetfulness, confusion, memory loss and aimless wandering. For many patients, this confusion can manifest as them forgetting to take their medication, missing medical appointments and sometimes displaying difficulty recalling basic information such as the day, date or time. Memory loss is particularly common in elderly patients, but can often be a warning sign that a greater medical emergency is underlying, such as Alzheimer's disease, and other variations of dementia.

Wandering, confusion and getting lost is a very common symptom for those living with dementia. Common signs to be aware of include a person returning home from a regular walk or drive later than they typically would, forgetting a route to familiar places, talking about fulfilling former obligations such as going to work, trying or wanting to "go home" despite already being at home, as well as becoming restless, pacing or making repetitive movements. It is crucial to identify any underlying disorders by taking your loved one to see their GP for a diagnosis. You can then discuss which homecare services are available to them, and which are most appropriate to ensure your loved one can maintain their independence and continue to live comfortably and safely in their own home.

Changes in behaviour, personal hygiene and pride in their home

If you notice that a loved one is displaying signs of increased anxiety, which can sometimes include them repetitively calling family members for reassurance, it may be time to consider additional support - though it is also important to determine if there are any underlying medical issues which require diagnosis. Aggression, increased paranoia, delusions, hallucinations and increased feelings of depression are all key behavioural changes to look out for. Sundowner's Syndrome is a behavioural change and often a symptom of Alzheimer's, or other type of dementia. As the sun sets, your loved one may become increasingly confused, overwhelmed and disoriented. As it becomes darker, this behaviour becomes extremely out of character for your loved one, and relatives often report being surprised by how drastically their mood has changed since the morning.

If you're concerned about a loved-one's wellbeing, their appearance can be a major, tell-tale sign they're having difficulty handling their everyday life. If your loved one has a stronger than usual body odour, unbrushed teeth, unwashed and unkempt hair, unclean and tatty clothing or odd pairs of shoes, it could be a sign that they are struggling psychologically. A well-kept appearance is about more than simply looking good, it can be a sign that a loved one's self-esteem and confidence are suffering. If a loved one has started letting themselves go, they are less likely to venture outdoors, take part in social events and more likely to isolate themselves from family and friends.

For many of us, cleaning our homes can be a ritualistic and cathartic way to help with our mental clarity. Whether we find cleaning therapeutic or not, there are several mental health benefits of having an orderly home. If your loved one's home is starting to look disorderly, it could be due to deeper, underlying emotional struggles that may need addressing. Next time you drop in on your loved one, take a moment to look around their home. If you notice an increase in dirty dishes lying around, potential health and safety hazards, an empty fridge, expired food, mail piling up or any strange smells, it could be time to arrange some help for them. Disarray around the home may be a sign that a loved one is struggling internally with something specific. For example, if there is a lot of unopened mail, it may be that your loved one is avoiding bills due to personal finance issues they are too embarrassed to discuss. If the house is dirty or untidy, it could be a sign of demotivation or even mobility issues. A carer or personal assistant could be extremely helpful for your loved one during this difficult time, in assisting them with their personal care needs. If you've noticed a decline in your loved one's personal hygiene, or in the condition of their home, take a moment to sit down with them, gently and sensitively voice your concerns and offer dignified solutions to help improve their overall wellbeing, safety and happiness.

Poor nutrition

A healthy, well-balanced and nutritional diet is imperative regardless of our age. However, as we get older and our bodies change, we may start to shift our eating habits without even realising it. However, if a loved one suddenly loses or gains a drastic amount of weight in a short period of time, it could indicate a loss of interest in food due to a changing appetite, difficulty preparing food due to cognitive decline, forgetting to prepare and eat meals, loss of ability to drive and shop for food, or a cognitive condition which may have caused injury to the part of our brains which controls eating. Westwood Homecare can provide thoughtful meal preparation to ensure your loved one continues to eat wholesome and healthy meals.

Withdrawal, self-isolation and demotivation in everyday life

We can all feel demotivated from time to time, especially if we're facing personal struggles. Apathy in older adults is extremely common, and some will sadly start giving up their interests over time because they begin to lose their lust for life. However, if your intuition is telling you that a loved one might be struggling, keep an eye out for increased fatigue, trouble handling their usual responsibilities, difficulty feeling and expressing emotions and difficulty with planning or solving problems, as these can be a tell-tale sign your loved one needs additional support.

Social connections with family and friends are undoubtedly beneficial for our minds and bodies. Socialising with loved ones can help eliminate feelings of loneliness, sharpen memory and cognitive skills and boost our overall wellbeing and happiness. If a loved one seems quieter or more irritable than usual, or if you've noticed their social circle is shrinking, it could be indicative of significant changes in emotional wellness, and a sign your loved one is withdrawing and self-isolating which can ultimately lead to depression. Difficulty completing basic tasks, struggling to integrate within the community, finding communication and connections with others more difficult, avoiding contact with loved ones and an increased desire to remain at home where they feel safest are all signs of withdrawal to be aware of.

It can be difficult for anybody to reach out and ask for help, even if we're really struggling, for a number of reasons. As our loved ones age, they might dwell in denial and hide symptoms of physical and cognitive decline out of fear they might be humiliated, judged or become a burden to their children. We may need to remind them, especially our parents, that they were always there as pillars of love and support for us as we learned and grew, and there will come a time when we need to offer them the same support - and there's absolutely no shame in it, it's just a part of life. Westwood Homecare can provide companionship, offering a reliable resource to help keep your loved one balanced and feeling inspired each and every day of their lives. Your loved ones can still stay home to live an independent and dignified life with the assistance of a caregiver, who will provide them with the highest quality of service and respect they deserve in the comfort of their own home.

With homecare services covering Manchester, Liverpool and everywhere in-between, we're proud to offer a range of care packages to suit the needs of your loved one. For more information, please get in touch.

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