Supporting families to notice changes in their loved ones

At Right at Home, we pride ourselves on delivering outstanding quality care that our Clients and their families trust.

Because we commit to consistency of CareGivers, our teams build strong bonds with our Clients, and are there to notice even the slightest of changes that could highlight something more concerning.

This compliment from one of our Client’s in Portsmouth highlights how our support can make a real difference:

“A couple of weeks ago one of your staff noticed a slight change in my mother’s demeanour and suggested it could be a symptom of UTI. Another CareGiver reiterated this the following evening. They were both correct and the matter was nipped in the bud with a three-day course of antibiotics. Thanks to their observation and familiarity with my mother’s personality, a potentially nasty situation was averted.”

Client’s daughter, Right at Home Portsmouth

Sometimes family members can miss very gradual changes or may not know what to look out for, but reacting as quickly as possible can help loved ones get the medical attention they need.

Age UK have highlighted the five most common ailments faced by elderly, and how to spot the signs:

Dementia

Dementia is a cognitive disorder that affects a person’s ability to reason and think properly. It is not actually a disease, but a group of symptoms caused by various diseases. The most common form of dementia is Alzheimer’s disease.

The symptoms of dementia can be very gradual and will get worse over time. They include:

  • Not remembering where they have left things
  • Finding it difficult to remember things that happened recently
  • Difficulty following conversations
  • Disorientation to time and place
  • Poor or decreased judgement
  • Changes in mood or behaviour

Because the symptoms can be very gradual, it may be difficult to notice the signs. These symptoms should be taken seriously and if you are concerned about a loved one, seek medical attention as early as possible.

For more information, visit The Alzheimer’s Society. If you are interested in learning more and helping others, why not sign up to become a Dementia Friend?

Depression

Depression can affect any age group. It is more common than many people realise, affecting 1 in 5 people, and is more common in later life.

Depression consists of an intense feeling of being low that goes beyond feeling a bit down. It can last for weeks or longer, and it can become so bad that it interferes with daily life.

It can be triggered by big events, but it can also just happen.

Being depressed can show itself in different ways but symptoms may include:

  • Being unable to enjoy things you normally enjoy
  • Tiredness
  • Sleeping too much or too little
  • Loss of appetite or eating more than usual
  • Losing or gaining weight over a short period of time
  • Being self-critical and feeling guilty
  • Being reluctant to leave the house
  • Neglecting hygiene or appearance
  • Having suicidal thoughts

Experiencing these symptoms on most days for 2-4 weeks is a sign that you should speak to a medical professional.

Common causes of depression in elderly people can include the death of a loved one, loneliness, the loss of routine following retirement, health problems and lack of independence.

Some people wrongly assume that depression is normal when people are older, but this is not the case, and it should always be treated.

Coronary Heart Disease

Coronary or Ischaemic Heart Disease is a term that describes what happens when your heart’s blood supply is blocked or interrupted by a build-up of fatty substances in the coronary arteries.

The most common symptom is angina (chest pains) which can occur when the heart has to work harder, like when climbing the stairs or when stressed. Pain can also be felt in the arm, neck, jaw or back. Angina isn’t usually life threatening, but it is a warning sign that you could be at increased risk of a heart attack or stroke.

If you or your loved one have an attack of chest pain that stops within a few minutes of resting, request an urgent appointment with your GP. Call 999 for an ambulance if you have chest pain that doesn’t stop after a few minutes – this could be a heart attack.

Things that can increase risk of CHD include:

  • An unhealthy diet
  • Lack of exercise
  • Smoking
  • Increasing age
  • A family history of heart problems

Diabetes

Diabetes is an incurable disease, but it can be controlled. The most common type in elderly people is Type 2 diabetes, and this is where the glucose level becomes too high. It is often linked to being overweight

You should visit your GP as soon as possible if you experience the main symptoms of diabetes, which include:

  • Feeling very thirsty
  • Going to the toilet more often, particularly at night
  • Weight loss
  • Cuts or wounds that heal slowly
  • Blurred vision
  • Feeling very tired

All of these symptoms could indicate other things, but always check with the GP if your relative complains of any of these or you notice any signs.

Hearing Loss

Hearing loss is very common in older people.  71.1% of people aged over 70 experience some level of hearing loss.

Hearing loss tends to progress gradually and usually affects both ears. Common signs include:

  • Difficulty hearing other people clearly and misunderstanding what is being said, especially in noisy places
  • Asking people to repeat themselves
  • Listening to music or watching television loudly
  • Having to concentrate hard to hear what other people are saying

If you notice that your relative is not hearing quite as well, make sure they get checked up. It may be that they need a hearing aid or other treatment.

If you think your loved one may need some extra support, contact your local Right at Home team.

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