Six Key Signs Mom or Dad May Need Help
The aging process is slow and gradual over time. As a result, mental, emotional, and physical declines often take family members by complete surprise.How do we know, as the child of an aging parent, something may be wrong? How do we know, if mom or dad is starting to have issues which need to be addressed? While there is no perfect answer to this dilemma, here are some great tips on how to identify potential problems. It is important to keep in mind, once these changes start occurring, the problem is not going to go away and should be proactively addressed before a medical crisis forces everyone to suddenly confront the situation.
1. POOR PERSONAL HYGIENE: Typically, if this is becoming an issue, it is a strong sign an aging parent needs help and often is matched with living in a cluttered home. Generally, most people want to be clean. Don’t necessarily assume the cause is due to a cognitive decline. Physical issues, such as arthritis or chronic back pain for example, can cause mobility issues leading to a decline in maintaining physical hygiene. This lack of cleanliness can be very embarrassing for a senior if they are aware of it and can cause them to isolate themselves.
2. POOR NUTRITION: Let’s face it, from the planning to the shopping to the preparing, getting proper nutrition is a challenge for everyone. For seniors it can be especially daunting. Many seniors skimp on their meals and often may only eat one meal a day. In addition to noticing weight loss, keep an eye out for an empty refrigerator, spoiled food in the refrigerator, and outdated food in the pantry.
3. FORGETFULNESS: There are many clues to this sign. They can range from very subtle; missed medications and appointments. To more moderate; unopened mail, unpaid bills or bounced checks. To more concerning; forgetting close family members names or being unable to find their way
home from the grocery store. These signs may just be the result of the normal aging process but could be the start of something more serious such as dementia.
4. LOSS OF BALANCE/MOBILITY: Three very good indicators a senior might be at a higher risk of falling are unexplained bruising, struggling to stand up from a seated position, and environmental issues such as adequate lighting, loose rugs, and electrical cords. Considering falls are a leading cause of injury and death in older Americans it is important to keep a close eye on this one.
5. DRIVING RISK: It is no surprise seniors will start to struggle with driving as they age. The reasons are multiple, such as a change in vision, hearing, judgment, reflexes, and attention. Here are some great clues to be aware of; unexplained dent or scratches on their car, recent traffic violations, neighbor’s observations, or the senior making comments about being afraid to drive at night. With the thought of them hurting themselves and/or others it’s important to tune into these clues early in the aging process.
6. CHANGES IN MENTAL & EMOTIONAL BEHAVIORS: As seniors start to slip cognitively, the signs of needing help can take many forms such as; a loss of interest in personal hobbies, mood swings, and becoming argumentative and temperamental. These initial indicators can lead to isolation, then to loneliness and even depression. With more and more seniors living alone, and children often living far away, this issue can be critical.
Just like raising teenagers, children of an aging parent need to be attentive to their parents. Almost like a detective. Observe their everyday activity and look for clues. Maybe just show up occasionally at the house unannounced. Notice what they can do and what they cannot do.
The good news is by catching these changes early and by having the parent accept the current reality, there is no reason why the loved one needs to move to an assisted living facility or nursing home. Some extra
help around the house may be just what the doctor ordered.
However, if health and/or happiness seems to be compromised, it may be time for a more serious discussion on alternative living arrangements. No matter what is decided upon, and every situation will be different, it is always best to keep these great words in mind.
“When spending time with your parents seems like too much effort . . . remember . . . one day all you will
have are the memories.”
Here are some additional great sources of information.
http://www.healthinaging.org – Health in Aging Foundation
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Hope Senior Home Care does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or another qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Developed and written by Hope Senior Home Care. Unauthorized use or duplication is prohibited.
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