ALCA specialists are usually the first port of call when families start worrying about their aged loved ones. They start by assessing the situation of their clients, from the immediate living environment to the healthcare situation and real-life difficulties that their clients are facing. To create a comprehensive picture of the situation, ALCA specialists take an in-depth look into every facet of their clients’ lives and minutely analyze current problems and predictable difficulties in the immediate future.
One of the places ALCA specialists tend to concentrate is in the fridge. This might surprise some people, and especially families who tend to overlook this vital part of the living environment, but the fridge offers a great deal of invaluable information for the ALCA specialist. For this reason, its inspection is vital.
How Inspection Works
The exploration of the refrigerator starts the moment the door is opened. Ideally, you would want to be greeted by an orderly array of food with a healthy variety, balancing fruits, vegetables, and other important consumables. The fridge should be almost odorless. This kind of fridge tends to denote an organized resident that takes care of themselves and probably has a healthy appetite.
On the other side of the spectrum, you can find a refrigerator over brimming with foodstuffs or desperately lacking in them. This fridge might contain mostly one type of food, lacking in balance. Note that a certain type of discoloration in the fruits and vegetables indicates food that has been in there too long. It’s likely that the scent wafting from this refrigerator will be more complex and less pleasing with notes of sourness or rotten food predominating. This, of course, is bad news and implies that something is amiss.
Making Sense of Observations
At this stage, the ALCA specialist needs to put him or herself in the resident’s shoes and try to make sense of what’s being observed. Spoilt food suggests that the resident isn’t eating enough, and the ALCA will consider whether this might mean the resident has a lack of appetite and whether forgetfulness is also involved.
Seeing an overabundance of food, on the other hand, may mean that the resident is typically over-eating; or it can mean that they have problems balancing their diet and are lost when shopping. The contents of the fridge provide a clue to whether or not the resident is experiencing social isolation, depression, or is overwhelmed by chores they find too hard to accomplish on their own, such as shopping.
This is why, after inspecting the refrigerator, the ALCA specialist moves into information gathering mode. He or she:
- Personally questions the residents, family, and neighbors
- Tries to make sense of the visual information that the fridge has provided
- Compares stories and tries to find discrepancies between the various statements. When stories vary, and the details are vague or non-existent, the Aging Life Care specialist knows he or she has a situation at hand, and that this needs to be addressed quickly. Malnutrition is an acute health risk that may lead to speedy deterioration in the health.
As you can see, we are aware that each senior’s case differs. This is why Aging Life Care specialists need to tailor their actions. They need to come to the right conclusions with the available clues and follow through with a comprehensive plan that is tailored to the unique situation of the senior in case. The goal remains the same; to help seniors avoid dangerous situations and to help guide them toward a situation that will improve their quality of life.