When we are growing up our parents seem like superheroes and they are always there for us. But as they get older the relationship often shifts to where they need more help from us. It can be hard for older parents to admit they need help from their adult children and others so knowing what signs to look for means you can offer help before a serious situation occurs.
Here are some warning signs to look for:
We all suffer from occasional forgetfulness, but constantly forgetting daily tasks can be a red flag that an elderly parent needs help. Forgetting to take medication, eat meals, or pay bills can be indicators that they need assistance. Even if you don’t live close to your parents be sure to pay attention to signs during phone calls such as asking the same questions over and over again, confusion about time, and an inability to track the conversation.
As we age we all slow down a little, but drastic changes in mobility could be a warning sign that they need assistance. You can track how often an elderly parent is moving by using the GeoZilla tracker and app. Use the tracker to get an idea of how much they are staying active. This is a great way to see big changes and get ahead of mobility issues before it results in a more serious issue such as a fall.
Loss of interest in hobbies and activities
As we age it is important to stay active mentally and socially. Keeping in touch with friends and taking part in hobbies can help keep you mentally sharp and connected to those around you. If you begin to see your parents withdrawing from their social circle or losing interest in hobbies it could be related to changes in mental capacity, decreased mobility, or depression.
Weight loss and dehydration
Older people often experience weight loss and dehydration as their ability to perform daily activities decreases or they have mental changes. They may forget to eat or are just physically not able to prepare meals and go shopping. If you notice parents losing weight it might be time to consider options such as a caregiver who can prepare meals or a meal delivery service.
Frequent falls or bruises
If your parents are experiencing instability and frequent falls it is definitely time to consult with their doctor. It is also time to consider changes to their environment to ensure safety. Look into adding railings and other aids that will make the performance of daily activities safer. If they continue to live by themselves it may also be time to get a monitor of some sort such as a GeoZilla GPS tracker that has an SOS button that can be used to call for help if they fall.
Unkempt appearance or house
Was your parent always well dressed and kept a perfectly clean house? Now they are showing signs of poor hygiene and the house is a mess? It might be a physical inability to maintain their hygiene or a mental change. Either way it could be a sign that they need home care or more assistance.
Mood changes that affect daily living could be an indicator that your parent is suffering from depression. This can be common in older people especially if they can no longer be as active as they once were. Be sure to follow-up with their doctor and get the medical assistance they need in the form of medication changes or therapy.
Changes in personality
If family members notice drastic changes in personality it could be related to neurological conditions such as dementia. If your parent used to be soft spoken and now they are loud and sometimes inappropriate, accusatory, or displaying other odd behaviors you should discuss medications or advanced care options such as assisted living with their doctor.
Unexplained dings and dents in the car
Many seniors want to keep their driver’s license to maintain their independence, but slowing reaction time, declining vision, and other conditions can make driving dangerous for both the driver and others on the road. If you begin to notice dents and scratches on their car it might be time to discuss driving and arranging for other transportation when needed.
Serious health issues
A serious change in health such as a stroke or a major break is the sign that no child wants and definitely can’t ignore. Discussing your parent’s current condition as well as future care with their healthcare provider is the most important thing you can do to help them. Researching your options and utilizing the many resources out there will help older adults live the best life they can.
You know your parents better than most so you are the best person to notice things that are out of character for them. Don’t write off little changes and signs when you see them. Talk to your parents and offer help in a caring way and seek professional help when you need it. Resources such as the National Institute on Aging can be helpful places to gather information about how to start the conversation with your parents and where to seek further assistance. They’ve been there for you and now it is your turn to be there for them.