Elderly Residents in Condominiums and Homeowners Associations
Many elderly tenants or homeowners are capable of living independently and paying their rent/dues on time. But sooner or later, you may have an elderly tenant who has trouble coping with day-to-day concerns, such as managing money, paying rent or maintenance fees on time, or keeping his home tidy.
You may be wondering what signals may indicate that an elderly tenant or member needs help. There are signs that should cause a manager or building staff to pay more attention to an elderly member in the community before a situation becomes dire.
With the help of Bob Stevens, director of training at New York City’s Department for the Aging, we give you seven signs or triggers that indicate that your elderly member or tenant may need help and that an appropriate social services agency should be notified.
Seven Potential Warning Signals
If a mishap occurs that affects the safety of other tenants or members, or the condition of the building–such as an elderly member’s overflowing sink–you would probably talk to the tenant or member and ask him to be more careful. But you can act promptly, before other tenants or members are put at risk, if you are aware of the following signs or triggers:
Repeated questions. An elderly individual may ask a staff member several times a day whether the mail has come in yet. This may possibly be a sign of dementia or it may just mean that the tenant is lonely. If a tenant asks repeated questions, monitor the situation for other signs or triggers.
Wandering. You may find your tenant or member wandering around your building. It is common for a person with dementia to wander and become lost, and many do, repeatedly. In fact, over 60 percent of those with dementia will wander at some point.
Inappropriate dressing. This could be dressing in heavy gloves and overcoat in 90 degree weather or going outside without shoes when it’s snowing. Associated with this is any uncharacteristic action or deterioration of personal habits, such as infrequent bathing and shampooing.
Repeated requests. An elderly tenant or member may make repeated calls for things she no longer can do, such as opening jars. This is an indication of physical frailty or arthritis, and means that nobody else is around to help and additional assistance may be needed for the tenant at home.
Substance abuse. A tenant or member may ask a staff member to buy him alcohol, or may slur, which may indicate a substance abuse problem, or it may mean that he is overmedicated. Overdosing on medication may indicate confusion, forgetfulness, or a misunderstanding of a doctor’s instructions.
Compulsive hoarding. Compulsive hoarding was once categorized as an obsessive-compulsive disorder. But recent studies are showing that it is a mental illness of its own. Owners and building staff usually become aware of hoarding behavior through maintenance visits or complaints from neighbors about smells or pests originating in the tenant’s apartment. Hoarding can be dangerous for the tenant if one of his collected items falls on him.
Frequent visits from strangers. Frequent unrelated visitors may indicate the possibility of exploitation. Elderly tenants or members may start to bring unrelated individuals into their homes because the tenants are lonely or confused, and these people may be exploiting them financially. These strangers may start walking off with the elderly tenant’s personal property, such as paintings or other valuables.
Source: Apartment Building Management Insider