How do you know if an older parent needs help? The signs can be subtle and easy to miss ― especially if you aren’t sure what to look for. Additionally, many seniors fear losing their independence, which may cause them to downplay difficulties ― making it difficult to know when additional help might be needed.
For example, you may wonder whether a loved one is experiencing memory loss—or simply the normal forgetfulness that occurs with aging. You may wonder if a parent needs to move from home to an assisted living community, or whether some other residential setting might be a better option.
Communicating with your aging parents may also pose a challenge. Many older adults don’t wish to be a “burden” and will minimize any troubles they may be experiencing.
Knowing some of the signs might help you decide when the time is right for you to step in. During your next visit with your parents, be prepared to do a bit of detective work. Look for any of the following signs as they could be an indication they are struggling and may need additional help.
1. The Home is Out of Sorts
How does the home look? Is the refrigerator empty, or filled with expired food? Are there dishes piled in the sink? Are belongings lying around, rather than in their proper place? If your loved one has always kept a neat house, such changes in housekeeping habits could signal difficulties with daily tasks.
2. Changes in Appearance
Does your loved one appear to be losing weight? Do you see changes in grooming habits? Are the clothes they are wearing overly worn or dirty? If your parent has always been well-groomed and fastidious, a change may indicate problems.
3. The Mail Hasn’t Been Checked
Are bills piling up? Unopened bills on the desk or counter, or even in the mailbox, can signal difficulties in handling paperwork.
4. Unusual Changes in Routine
Has your father stopped participating in activities he has always enjoyed? Does your mother still attend services at church or the synagogue as she always has? Losing interest in favorite activities can be the result of illness, depression, or forgetfulness.
5. Odd Behaviors
Does your loved one seem confused at times? Or are they frustrated by tasks that normally come easily? This could be a sign of memory loss or other challenges.
6. The Car Needs Attention
Check your parent’s vehicle for damage. Is Dad’s car showing a little more than normal road wear? Do you find dings, dents, and scrapes when you inspect Mom’s vehicle? These can indicate difficulties in driving.
7. Frequent Bumps and Bruises
Does your loved one have any bumps or bruises on the head, hands, arms, or legs? Your parent may be falling regularly, but reluctant to tell you, because they don’t want you to worry.
Pay Attention to Your Intuition
Remember that when you’re caring for elderly parents, changes may crop up unexpectedly. Even if you’re not seeing obvious warning signs that your loved one needs help, if something seems “just not right,” try to investigate further.
Always be open and direct with your loved one about any concerns you have. If necessary, discuss your concerns with a friend, a neighbor, or your parent’s physician.
Also, keep in mind that everyone has “off” days occasionally. Your loved one may forget to pay a bill or simply feel out of sorts at times, and it doesn’t necessarily indicate a problem. Rather, look for a pattern of potential issues that continue to occur or worsen.
If you do feel like your parent could use some additional help, assisted living could be a wise next step. The Bristal Assisted Living gives residents convenience and safety while also preserving their independence by lending a helping hand with everyday tasks as needed.