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Letters to the Editor
Lincoln Daily News
601 Keokuk St.
Lincoln, IL  62656

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Ten signs your aging friends need help          Send a link to a friend

To the editor:

Most of us have parents or friends who are senior citizens. It isn't always easy to know when they need help or how much we should offer. A recent article from Elder Options of Texas offered these 10 warning signs that assistance may be needed.

1. Mail and bills left to pile up. The simple act of opening and filing mail becomes overwhelming.

2. The house is cluttered or unkempt. This is especially troubling if your parent or friend is normally tidy.

3. Food in the refrigerator is uneaten, spoiled or well past expiration date. They may be eating just enough to get by or not at all. Losing weight can be another sign of poor nutrition.

4. Signs of scorching on the bottoms of pots and pans. This can be a sign of short-term memory loss and is potentially dangerous as it points to pots being left on the stove to cook dry, possibly causing a fire.

5. Wearing the same clothing several days in a row or other personal hygiene issues. It could be a sign of memory loss, or it could be that doing laundry has become daunting. Perhaps the washer and dryer are in the basement and there is a safety issue, or perhaps they are afraid they might fall in the shower.

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6. Missed doctor's appointments. This may be a lack of transportation or not knowing what options are available to them.

7. Repeated phone calls at odd hours. This can be a sign of dementia, depression, loneliness or isolation.

8. Forgetting to take medication or forgetting that it has already been taken. They risk being under- or overmedicated, and this can be very dangerous.

9. Inappropriate behavior, clothing or speech. This could be a sign of confusion. A neighbor might report seeing your parent or friend not dressing appropriately for the weather or the mailman commenting on a recent emotional outburst.

10. Symptoms of depression. Depression is common in the elderly, who may feel isolated and alone. Depression causes changes in interest, and behavior such as crying, listlessness, loss of interest in activities usually enjoyed, not wishing to get out of bed and dressed can all indicate a problem.

There are many services available once the problem is identified. A quick resource is Senior Services of Central Illinois, 217-732-6213 or 1-800-252-2516, www.ssoci.org. Please give them a call with any questions or concerns.

Julie King
Senior Issues Task Force

(Posted Jan. 31, 2007)

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