We live in a very mobile society where families don’t always live in the same town or even the same state for that matter. Don’t forget to check up on seniors living on their own.

One of the ways to determine a senior’s current capabilities is to use your five senses. The following checklist can help you determine if your family members are in need of additional care or assistance.

Sight — looking at the senior’s appearance can be a sign that they are being limited either physically or mentally from completing otherwise normal daily tasks. Watch for things like clothes with stains, poor personal hygiene; are they wearing makeup or shaved for a male? Is the house unclean, disorganized or cluttered?

Sound — Listening to what and how seniors speak can tell you a lot about their current mental status. Do they call you by name? Are they speaking normally? Are they up on the news? Have they continued their outside activities?

Smell — Use your nose as an indicator to determine if your family member is bathing properly and cleaning their house. Does the house possess any unpleasant odors? Do the refrigerator or cupboards smell? Is there an unusual amount of garbage, clutter, dust or dirt?

Touch — A simple hug can tell you if your family member is fragile or losing weight and putting themselves in jeopardy of injury or even malnourishment from not eating properly.

Observe — Checking their food and sorting through their medications can help you determine if they are eating healthy or even worse, taking expired medication. Do they have fresh and stocked items in the refrigerator and pantry? Look at the expiration dates. Are there many different prescriptions coming from different doctors and pharmacies and are they expired? Has their personality changed? Do they seem withdrawn or depressed? Is the mail being opened or accumulating in a pile? Are the bills being paid on time?

“If the family senses a problem, they should waste no time in taking the appropriate next steps,” said Ken Gurin, owner of Comfort Keepers in Shelton. “Sometimes setting a family meeting while the majority of the family is in town may be the easiest way to develop the needed plan of care.”  In many cases deciding to utilize the services of an outside care provider is the best option.

Things to be discussed at the meeting could include the latest report from the physician, what are the senior’s daily care needs, what are the financial concerns of caregiving and who will make future decisions?

“For many of our clients, we provide assistance with many of the activities of daily life including personal care services, meal preparation, light housekeeping, companionship, incidental transportation (to medical appointments, etc.) and grocery shopping. While, we provide peace of mind to the family members who can’t be there on a regular basis, we keep the senior safe, happy, healthy and independent where they most prefer to be — at home,” said Gurin.

To learn more about the services offered by Comfort Keepers, call 203-924-4949 or visit www.comfortkeepers.com.