6 Signs Your
Aging Parent Needs Help
Being aware of the 6 signs your aging parent needs help is one of the best ways you can thank them now for caring for you when you were growing up.
Chances are, for a good part of your adult life, your parents were still keenly interested in your life. They were the ones wondering most sincerely how you were doing, whether you needed anything, and how they could help. Maybe they sent you care packages with those items they knew were your favorites. Maybe they were your go-to babysitter, the one who was always available. Or maybe, irresistibly, they were the ones you called for help (again) on some fixit job around your house.
As the years go by, however, roles tend to reverse, and you become the one that increasingly attentive to their needs. Much easier to keep tabs, of course, when your folks live near by, and the needs are right in front of you. Far more challenging and even unnerving when adult children live distant and they are left to only assume aging parents are getting along as they always have.
Whether near or far, as the adult child, you will want to keep an eager eye on the changing landscape. Here are six signs, a few indications, that your loved one may be struggling, and it may be time to consider an assisted living community.
- Housekeeping. If you notice that the home of your ordinarily neat-freak mom or dad looks increasingly cluttered with piles of paper and clothes, or it’s not nearly as clean as it once was, see that as a red flag. In addition to posing a tripping or sanitation hazard, it could mean they’re not physically able to clean up, their eyesight has deteriorated, or they’ve developed a hoarding issue.
You may be able to solve the problem by hiring a cleaning person to occasionally come in to tidy up. If that’s not an option or if you sense they might be depressed or anxious about letting go of things, you might want to alert their doctor. Appropriate medical or psychological help may allow them to continue living at home for the time being.
- Weight loss or gain. If you start noticing your parent’s clothes looking baggy, it may be due to several things. Loss of appetite can be a sign of a medical problem. Or perhaps they are having trouble working the stove, can’t get to the grocery store often enough, or are simply forgetting to eat. Weight gain may also be precipitated by a medical issue. Reaching for extra snacks or treats could be a way of coping with depression. Try talking to them about their diet and eating habits to find out what’s going on. Arranging Meals on Wheels delivery, stocking their freezer with easy-to-prepare entrees or replacing unhealthy snacks with better options may do the trick. If not, they may need more help than you can provide.
- Hygiene. Sometimes it’s a matter of having trouble getting in and out of the shower to bathe. Forgetting to brush their teeth. Struggling with nail clippers. Or having difficulty loading and unloading the washer and dryer. If you’re noticing your loved one has body odor, bad breath or even sores on their skin, it signals that they may need someone to help them with the activities of daily hygiene and grooming.
- Wounds. Everyone bangs themselves up occasionally. But if you notice your loved one always seems to have bruises or scrapes especially on their head, it’s a cause for concern. It could mean that they are experiencing falls caused by poor balance, missed medications or alcohol use. Since falls are one of the leading causes of injury and death in older adults, do not ignore this evidence.
- Financial irregularities. If you start finding unpaid bills, notice an unusual number of charitable donations or multiple copies of a favorite magazine in your parent’s mail, it may mean trouble. They might be forgetting to keep up with bill paying or subscriptions. They may be falling victim to aggressive salesmen. And they are exposing themselves to scammers who prey relentlessly on seniors. The time may have come for you to take over some of their financial matters. You can also discuss which charities are important for them to support and remove their name from the rest of the organizations.
- Forgetfulness and mood changes. A parent occasionally not remembering where they left their phone or glasses is normal. Storing the screwdriver in the freezer could be a sign of more serious memory loss. Though only a neurologist can diagnose Alzheimer’s or any form of dementia, misplaced objects combined with unusual changes in mood, like increased agitation, prolonged silences or uncharacteristically unrestrained behavior, could point to a loss in cognition that may require more intensive care.
While you want to respect your parents’ desire for independence, you also want to do all you can to make sure they are healthy, safe and enjoying life to the fullest. Being aware of the signs that they may need additional help is one of the best ways to return the love they have shown you all those years.
MorningStar Senior Living — Assisted Living Community
If your loved one lives far from family and friends, it could be time to move into an assisted living community nearer to their adult children where they’ll have the companionship of fellow seniors and a compassionate service team. At MorningStar Senior Living, a 24/7 team is dedicated to offering care and hospitality services that meet each resident’s social, emotional, physical, and spiritual needs.