Free Web Conference Helps Caregivers Tune into Trouble11-23-11-senior-corner.jpg

It’s easy for busy family caregivers to overlook the subtle signs that a senior loved one needs assistance. But the holidays, when many return to their childhood homes with aging parents, can highlight those red flags.

Signs of potential trouble can be evident in a senior’s home — such as spoiled food in the refrigerator and piles of unpaid bills — or personal indicators such as episodes of confusion or dirty and unkempt clothing.

Here’s what several noted national caregiving experts had to say about the issue:

Gail Hunt, the president and CEO of the National Alliance for Caregiving, said: “If you’re a long-distance caregiver, perhaps you haven’t seen your loved one in a while. You may notice some real differences since a few months ago. The hometown caregivers might not see the signs because they’re so busy and the changes are so subtle.”

Countering senior resistance to assistance can be a challenge, added President and CEO of the National Family Caregivers Association Suzanne Mintz. “Family caregivers must recognize that their parents are adults and – unless there are cognitive or emotional problems – they can make their own decisions. We do not and should not become our parents’ parents. We must remember we will always be their children.”

You can learn more about those signs by registering for the free Home for the Holidays web conference, moderated by a representative from the Home Instead Senior Care® network. The event will be hosted by the American Society on Aging, and co-sponsored by the National Family Caregivers Association and the National Alliance for Caregiving.

The hour-long web conference will be available in the U.S. and Canada: Monday, Dec. 5, at 8 p.m. Eastern Time. Register by going to

The web conference will be moderated by Director of Strategic Alliances Mary Alexander of Home Instead, Inc., the franchisor of the Home Instead Senior Care® network. Alexander is a family caregiver and a Certified Senior Advisor (CSA).

Featured will be information about countering senior resistance to assistance as well as resources that can help family caregivers and senior care professionals.

Following are 10 signs that a senior might need more help at home:

1. A change in appearance or condition of the home. If Mom never cared much about her house, the fact that it’s a little messier than usual might not indicate a problem. However, if the house was always spotless and decked out for the holidays, a messy home might mean trouble is brewing.

2. Clutter. Piles of magazines or clothing could be an indicator that an older adult needs more help.

3. Dirty or unkempt clothing. Lack of interest in appearance can be a sign of depression in a senior.

4. Unpaid bills. A pile of unpaid bills or correspondence is an alarm-ing sign that could require a family caregiver to intervene immediately in the best interest of a loved one.

5. Fresh food replaced with junk food. A senior who loses interest in cooking sometimes resorts to junk food.

6. Spoiled food in the fridge or freezer. Spoiled food could be an early sign that a senior no longer has an appetite and is not eating prop-erly.

7. Bugs or rodents in the home. An older adult who no longer can clean a home properly may be vulnerable to bugs and rodents.

8. Confusion. Disorientation could be a sign of dementia, a problem with a medication or another medical issue that needs to be assessed by a doctor.

9. Unfilled prescriptions. Seniors could be forgetting to take their medications or cannot afford to refill them.
10. Spills on floors and countertops.

Older adults with mobility problems may no longer be able to clean up spills, reach high places to dust and change light bulbs, and bend under beds to take care of messes.Older adults often need help year-round, not just during the holidays. Professional caregivers are ready to assist with a variety of services including companionship, meal preparation, light housekeeping, medi-cation reminders, running errands and shopping.

Photo: The hour-long web con-ference will be available in the U.S. and Canada.

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