With people living longer and longer, many families will increasingly have senior-aged parents and grandparents. As elderly relatives age, they will require more and more assistance with daily life. But how do you know when they will need a helping hand? Here are 8 signs to look out for and who you can go to for help.
1. Physical Difficulties
Are your parents having trouble walking or getting up from a chair? Look at your parents’ home. Is the staircase awkward to navigate, are there slippery tiles, does the furniture create obstacles or are they having trouble getting in and out of the shower?Muscle, joint pain or trouble with knees might indicate that a cane or walker is necessary.
Who could help: Visit the doctor regarding your parent’s mobility or arrange for home modifications throughout the home to improve accessibility.
2. Increasing Forgetfulness
Have your parents have begun forgetting appointments or bills that need to be paid? Have they been getting lost more regularly? Maybe they have begun repeating themselves or putting common objects in illogical places. Perhaps they forget the dosage for their medicine, or don’t take it altogether.
If this is the case, an assessment might be in order to help determine options and resources.Once you know what is going on with your parent, be it a medical condition or dementia, you will better know how to help them.
Who could help: Talk to your parent’s doctor about an evaluation (both medical and cognitive) or hire a caregiver to provide transportation and assist with medication.
3. Decrease in Hygiene
Is your dad’s hair uncombed and teeth not brushed? Is he no longer going to the barber with usual regularity? Is he wearing the same clothing or inappropriate clothing? Lack of awareness about his personal appearance might be a sign of physical problems, depression or Alzheimer’s. Talk to your parents what you noticed and ask them about it.
Who could help: The conversation will lead you to your next step. It maybe a budget problem or they may need transportation to a store for supplies or clothes. Or there could be medical or cognitive concerns that require a doctor visit.
4. Loss in Appetite
Are your parents losing weight, becoming dehydrated, not cooking, forgetting to eat or eating unhealthy? They might be having trouble cooking, reading a recipe, holding utensils or operating a stove, or they may have difficulty with the senses of taste and smell. Dybnis suggests checking the refrigerator for out of date food. Make sure your parents are drinking and not becoming dehydrated, especially during the heat of the summer.
Who could help: Hire a senior caregiver who can prepare meals, consider a meal delivery service or take on this chore on your own.
5. Personality Changes
Do you notice a change in your parents’ personalities, especially in the evening? Are they talking too loudly or too softly? Are they accusing people of doing or saying things against them, wanting to check on children or displaying other odd behaviors? This may be sun-downing or late-day confusion.
Is your mom or dad social and active, visiting friends, participating in faith, civic or community activities? Or are they listless with low spirits and a lack of energy? Find out why they are no longer interested. Simply ask them about it. Why are they no longer taking part in activities?
Changes in personality can result from other things aside from Alzheimer’s or dementia, which looks different in every individual. You may have to be creative and try multiple strategies to address changes in personality and meet your loved one’s needs.
Who could help: A doctor could address medical issues; alternative transportation may be needed to take them to an activity.
6. Clutter Around the House
Is there dirty laundry or unopened mail? Is the house unkempt, especially in the kitchen and bathroom? Does the lawn need mowing?Maybe maintaining the home is becoming too much for your parents to handle.
Who could help: A housekeeper, lawn service or senior caregiver.
7. Scratches, Bruises & Burns
Have you noticed unexplained bruises, bumps, scratches or burns? These may be signs your loved one is having difficulty taking care of themselves.
Who could help: The house may need a geriatric makeover; hiring a housekeeper or meal delivery service may be helpful. Ultimately you want to make sure that your loved one is safe and able to live at home.
8. Illnesses or Physical Difficulties
If your parents suffer from advanced diabetes or have visual difficulties, such as Parkinson’s or severe or recurring strokes, they may need you to step in. Dybnis suggests finding out what the problem is and what services can be provided to keep your parent active and social despite the disability.
Who could help: In additional to medical advice, a van service or housekeeping can be a big help with quality of life.
After being independent and self-sufficient for so long, it’s difficult for parents to admit they need help. But it’s important to communicate with your parents, letting them know why you are worried and that you want to help. Then come up with solutions together.
Your Next Steps:
- Planning Ahead for the Cost of Senior Care
- Finding the Perfect Senior Care Solution
- How to Interview a Senior Caregiver