Physical and mental health decline often surprises family members, especially if aging parents seemed fine on the last visit. The key is to be aware of the small signs or problems that something may be wrong, so that your elderly has an inkling of health decline and can properly prepare for the future.
Aging parents and their children are often in denial that there is a problem. It’s often hard for parents to admit that they need help, and no one wants to lose their independence. But daily living tasks sometimes get to be too much as we age, and it’s important for family members and loved ones to step up and address the problem when this happens, even if it is painful.
The responsibility often falls on the family to recognize the signs that an aging parent might need help with daily living tasks. This doesn’t mean that your loved one has to go to assisted living or a nursing home, but they may need some extra help in their home environment. And if they’re not willing to admit it, there are signs that your elderly parent needs help.
- Dirty or disorganized house, extreme clutter and stained carpets or floors, may indicate poor vision or loss of mobility.
- Disheveled clothing, dirty laundry piling up, untended plants and pets, may indicate physical frailty or memory problems.
- Broken or burned appliances in the kitchen may indicate an inability to cook safely.
- Changes in personality, mood or extreme mood swings, depressed or low energy temperament, neighbors expressing concern about your loved one’s unusual behavior may indicate cognitive decline or sensory loss.
- Difficulty in getting along or lack of involvement: They have stopped talking about visiting their friends or attending religious services or quitted volunteering.
- Spoiled / expired groceries that don’t get thrown away
- Poor personal hygiene: Unpleasant body odor, infrequent showering and bathing, strong smell of urine in the house, noticeable decline in grooming habits and personal care
- Watch for bruises: Unexplained bruising can be an indicator that they may be falling and not telling you. They may also indicate issues with stability.
- Trouble getting up from a seated position might be an indication of any pain or stiffness in joints.
- Forgetfulness: Missing important appointments, forgetting to take medications or taking more than the prescribed dosage normal routine.
- Uncertainty and confusion when performing once-familiar tasks: Late payment notices, bounced checks and calls from collections. Stacks of unopened mail or an overflowing mailbox.
- Poor diet or weight loss. They drink or take sleeping or pain pills more frequently.
- Loss of interest in hobbies and activities. They stop caring for themselves or the things they enjoy.
- Unexplained dents or scratches on car or garage may indicate poor vision or inability to drive safely.
- Avoid answering your calls. The stories your parent is telling you aren’t making sense, they may be hiding something.
- Other changes like erratic driving, change in handwriting, difficulty taking decision, exhibiting hoarding or any compulsive behaviors are all signed that they are having difficulty managing their life on their own.
Be aware of physical deterioration and mental disintegration. Understanding the needs of your loved one allows you to offer targeted assistance where it is truly needed, thus protecting his or her privacy and reassuring them of their independence. If health or happiness seems to be compromised, it’s time to have a conversation and address problems, whether it’s finding in-home care, a retirement community or a senior living community. It’s important to find the right care options for each unique family situation.