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Mum, what are you doing?

Christmas is a time when families spend more time together than they would ordinarily do throughout the year. Lots of families notice over the Christmas break, that perhaps things for their parents or older relatives are not going as well as they thought. We often receive calls from distressed family members early each New Year wanting to talk about some things that they noticed while enjoying extended family time.

To be honest, it’s a busy time of the year and the stress of it can make even the best of us forget things, mix things up or do things like make the Christmas cake with salt instead of sugar. In the hustle and bustle of life these things are all perfectly understandable. Then there are the things that you notice your mother or your father doing that make you stop, nudge a sibling and whisper “What is Mum doing?” or “Why has Mum got $1,000 stashed in the cutlery drawer?” or “Do you even know who this Louise is she is talking about?” or “Why is there a table setting for Dad when as far as I know he passed 10 years ago?”. So how do you sift out what to worry about and what to simply put down to Christmas chaos?

If Mum or Dad or even your Aunty are not really coping as well as you would have thought, there are a few good indicators that you can pick up on that don’t immediately require an interrogation of the person involved.

These will include such things as:

  • Noticing that clothing is not as clean or to the standard that the person would have previously presented themselves in. This also includes, whether or not they are doing their hair the same way or applying makeup etc. There are good reasons why this might be the case. It could be that they are having trouble with the washing machine, their shoulder is hurt from carrying groceries or something similar. It doesn’t necessarily mean that they have stopped noticing or caring.
  • Seeing a once sparkling clean house, with grime build up or stains on the carpet or a bathroom in need of a good scrub. Housework is a good work out and there comes a time when we all need a little help with it, knowing when to ask for that help can be hard for some people.
  • Telling the same story over and over again without realising that they are doing this or denying it when you mention they just told you. Not remembering or being easily confused is also a sign that maybe they are not coping as well as you thought.
  • Noticing that a lot of things are missing from the house. This could mean a lot of things and maybe they are just downsizing but giving things away indiscriminately probably needs some further thought and discussion.
  • Talking about things or people in the past as if they were there or happened only recently. This is a tough one because sometimes they are genuinely reminiscing and so some gentle questioning and conversation can often help you understand if it is a trip down memory lane or if it’s something else.

If you are concerned then here are some things you can do.

  • Have a conversation with siblings or other family and compare thoughts about what they have observed. Make a plan about what you collectively want to do and assign jobs to people based on their realistic capacity.
  • Contact their GP and make an appointment to go with them to make sure that they are not simply dehydrated or have another infection that can in some people make it look like they have an early dementia.
  • Make a referral to My Aged Care on 1800 200 422 to an Aged Care Assessment Team who can work with you to identify the right supports for your loved one.

For more information about Residential Aged and Retirement Living accommodation we provide call us on 1300 TRICARE