For many families, the holidays are one of the few times of the year when everyone gets together for an in-person gathering. These annual visits allow families to reconnect, reminisce and enjoy each other’s company, but they also provide adult children with a valuable opportunity to check in on the physical and mental health of elderly parents whom they may not have seen in months.
While we’re not suggesting anyone dampen the holiday spirit with talk of age-related changes or the need for assistance during your visit, it is important to look for signs that your parents may need help, and make a plan to address your concerns in the near future.
4 Signs Your Aging Parents May Need Help
Poor Health & Hygiene
One of the first things adult children typically notice in ailing parents is weight loss. This could be a sign that there’s an underlying health problem, or that your parents are struggling to shop for and prepare balanced meals. Likewise, if your parents are wearing dirty clothes or not bathing regularly, this is a good indication that they need help. It’s also important to note any mobility or balance issues. If your parents have scratches or bruises that they are unwilling or unable to explain, this can also be cause for concern.
An Unkept House
Poor housekeeping is another sign that your parents are struggling to take care of themselves. Of course, no one expects a perfectly spotless house, but things like spoiled food in the refrigerator or cabinets, an uneaten pizza in the oven – or no food at all – are all signs that your parents need assistance. Piles of unopened mail or dirty laundry, overflowing garbage, pest, mold or mildew problems, and damage to the family car are other common warning signs.
It’s normal to have memory lapses, especially as we age, but if your parent’s forgetfulness is interfering with daily life, it may be time to step in. Forgetting the names of family members or long-time friends, repeating themselves, or confusion over how to perform common tasks could be a sign of Alzheimer’s disease or another form of dementia. Other red flags include missing medication doses or doctor appointments, getting lost, failing to pay bills, and falling victim to scams.
Changes in Mood or Behavior
In addition to assessing your parent’s physical and cognitive health, it’s important to pay attention to their behavior and overall mood. For instance, sudden angry outbursts or aggression, particularly over things that normally wouldn’t bother them, may also be an early sign of dementia. Alternatively, if your usually cheerful parent appears more withdrawn or sad, they could be suffering from depression. Consuming too much pain medication or alcohol, sleeping excessively, or lack of interest in things they previously enjoyed are also signs your parent needs help.
Getting Help for Elderly Parents
While it may be hard for you – and your parents – to admit that they need help, it’s important to address these warning signs for your parent’s health and safety. As long as your parents aren’t in immediate danger, there’s no need to have the conversation during your holiday celebration. However, it is important to take note of your concerns and make a plan to follow up in the New Year.
The first step is to have an open and honest conversation with your parents. Start by bringing up your concerns and asking if they’ve noticed these signs, too. Instead of making decisions about your parent’s care on their behalf, be a resource. Come prepared to share information about the different care options available so that you can arrive at a decision together.
If you and your parents decide that assistance is needed, we invite you to take a look at Eddy Senior Living. As the Albany Capital region’s premier provider of senior living options, we offer independent senior living, assisted living, and memory care at our communities in Troy, Niskayuna, Slingerlands, East Greenbush, Queensbury and Cohoes, NY.