Subtle changes in your aging parent’s home or in their physical appearance can be a clue that something important has changed, and may need further investigation by a professional. Changes in their hair style or care, change in makeup, what they are wearing can actually be an early warning sign about how they are doing emotionally or cognitively. Likewise, changes in the appearance of their kitchen, bedroom and living room can tip you off as well.
C-3PO and R2-D2 can Help You Detect Tell Tale Signs. No, we are not talking about home robots here, that may be practical someday – but right now we are just using the names of our favorite Star Wars droids as simple acronyms to remember what to look for.
Seriously, C-3PO is a memory jog about the inside of their house, while R2-D2 tells us about them.
C-3PO stands for Carpet, Piles, Pots and pans, Pantry, Odors
Carpet: Do you notice any fresh carpet stains? This could be an indication that they have recently dropped something or slipped while carrying a cup of coffee.
Piles: Are there suddenly piles of bills or unopened mail on the dresser, table or kitchen counter? This could indicate a sudden change in interest or confusion.
Pots and pans: Do you see burned marks on the bottoms of their pots and pans? This could indicate that they forgot that they had something cooking on the stove, and maybe several times.
Pantry: Is the food pantry (and even the fridge) empty or just has a lot of very low cost items? I like Roma noodles, but 10 bags with little else might be an important clue that they are not eating well.
Odors: Do you notice a change in the way the home smells? Beyond smells from spills, this may be an early indicator of incontinence.
R2-D2 stands for Reactive, Ruffled, Disregard, and Disoriented
Reactive: Does your parent suddenly seem more irritable, touchy, short-tempered, snappy or sensitive?
Ruffled: Has their normally neatly groomed appearance changed to more of a rumpled or disheveled look? Have they missed the last two hair appointments?
Disregard: Do they seem to have a disregard or apathy for things that used to be important? Do they appear listless or lethargic?
Disoriented: Do they appear disoriented, confused, perplexed, or unsettled or do they suddenly complain that they have misplaced items?
Obviously, these can be touchy topics and need to be handled delicately. These memory jogs are simply intended to clue you in on early tell tales signs that maybe your parent needs a see a professional.
What approaches have you found useful / helpful?