Magazine article USA TODAY

Determining When the Time Is Right

Magazine article USA TODAY

Determining When the Time Is Right

Article excerpt

When is the right time to suggest parents or loved ones no longer can live safely on their own? Sometimes, this difficult decision is forced by illness, an accident, or other circumstances related to aging. For other elders, changes are subtle. In a special report on assisted living, Mayo Clinic Women's HealthSource lists warning signs to help gauge when seniors need help in the home or alternative living arrangements. These signs also may indicate that a call or visit to a primary care physician is in order:

Weight loss. Losing weight without trying is a signal that something is wrong. It can indicate a significant health problem, such as cancer, dementia, depression, or heart failure. Weight loss also can be related to difficulty finding the energy to cook or problems with grasping utensils. Changes in the ability to taste and smell can make food less appealing.

Poor home maintenance. Piled up dirty dishes or clutter, overgrown grass, or any big negative changes in home upkeep are clues that seniors may be having health problems or age-related changes that hinder them from staying abreast of household chores.

Lack of personal hygiene. Failure to keep up with daily routines--teeth brushing, bathing, and basic grooming--can be signs of trouble. …

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