Sometimes an older family member’s need for help is sudden and obvious. Usually though, the changes appear gradually. It’s hard to pinpoint exactly when the older adult in your life may need a little extra help, but watch for changes in your loved one’s behavior, like ignoring hobbies, missing outings with friends or forgetting to pay the bills.
Signs to Look For
- Are your aging parents taking care of themselves?
Pay attention to your parents’ appearance and home. Are their clothes and home clean or kept like usual? Failure to keep up with daily routines – such as bathing and basic grooming – could indicate dementia, depression and physical impairments.
- Are your aging parents experiencing memory loss?
Modest memory problems are a common part of aging, like misplacing glasses. But getting lost in familiar neighborhoods or forgetting common words when speaking are much more concerning. If this extreme memory lapse occurs, schedule an appointment with their physician.
- Are your aging parents safe in their home?
Have your parents fallen recently or are they having trouble getting up and down the stairs? These are signs that you may need to make adjustments in the house to help keep your loved ones safe.
- Are your aging parents safe on the road?
If your aging parents become confused while driving, or have a hard time seeing things while on the road, it may be time to stop driving. Encourage your parents to keep their independence by learning other transportation options, such as taking the bus or taxi.
- Have your aging parents lost weight?
This could be a sign that your parents are having difficulty cooking for themselves or have had a loss of taste or smell. It also could be a sign of a serious underlying condition such as malnutrition, dementia, depression or cancer.
- Are your aging parents in good spirits?
Pay attention to your parents’ mood and ask how they are doing and feeling. A drastic change in mood could be a sign of depression. Many older adults face depression as they age – it’s important to get them the help they need. Depression is not a normal part of the aging process.
- Are your aging parents able to get around?
It’s important to keep an eye on your parents’ mobility – are they able to walk with ease? Is knee or hip arthritis making it difficult for them to move? If parents are unsteady on their feet, they might be at risk for falling.
How To Take Action
Sometimes aging parents don’t realize they need help and others are too proud to admit they need it. That’s where they need their loved ones to step in. Remind your parents that you want to do what is best for them to ensure they are the happiest and healthiest they can be.
- Share your concerns with your parents openly and honestly.
- Encourage regular medical checkups for your parents and offer to schedule the visit or drive them there.
- Point out potential safety issues to your parents and come up with a plan to make changes to address the concern.
- Consider home care services and programs.
- Contact your parents’ doctor for guidance.
- Research local agencies and seek help whenever possible.