Watch for these clues that loved ones might not be as independent as they once were.
For most older adults who live independently, the time will come when they need help. It could be that a health condition has made completing everyday activities more challenging, they may have difficulty driving, or you may notice that they have started forgetting things.
Sometimes an aging parent will recognize their need for help and ask for it. But more often, they don’t ask. Some do not speak up out of fear they will be pressured to give up their independence and move to an assisted living facility. Or they may worry that they will be a burden to family members. Sometimes they don’t even realize that they need help.
If you care for an aging parent or loved one, watch for signs they might not be as independent as they once were. The American Seniors Housing Association says there are 10 signs that indicate your loved one needs assistance.
Do your parents exhibit any of these signs?
- The yard and house lack upkeep.
- The inside of the house becomes uncharacteristically cluttered, disorganized or dirty.
- There’s a stack of unpaid bills.
- They appear disheveled; for example, their clothes are unclean or their hygiene has declined.
- There is hardly any food in the house.
- There has been a change in their general mood, or they’ve lost interest in hobbies and activities.
- They forget to take their medications or get prescriptions filled.
- They have unexplained bruising, which could indicate they’ve been falling.
- They have become more forgetful, perhaps missing essential appointments.
- They have noticeably gained or lost weight.
What to do when a parent needs help
If you’ve determined that your parent needs help at home, what do you do next? Sometimes assistance with meals, light housekeeping or personal care is all your parent needs. But no matter how small or easy to fix, admitting the need for help is difficult, and it can be a tough subject to discuss.
"Or they may worry that they will be a burden to family members. Sometimes they don’t even realize that they need help."
Approach the subject with compassion. It’s best to discuss before a crisis occurs. Before sitting down for a serious conversation, bring up the topic casually, with a comment like, “Mom, what can I do to help you?” When you have a more serious conversation, listen to what your parent has to say. Discuss all the options with an open mind, and emphasize that you want to support your parent to help them be happy, healthy and safe.
For more information
Top 10 Signs Your Aging Parent Needs Help at Home, SYNERGY HomeCare.
What Are the Signs That an Aging Parent Needs Help?, National Institute on Aging.