As parents of adult children get older, it might be difficult for their loved ones to recognize when they need more help at home. Adult children often see their parents as a source of strength and independence, and it is hard to reach the conclusion that our parents are getting older and require support and assistance around the home that they’ve never needed before. But there are definite red flags that pop up to help us identify when it is time to increase the support and help that aging parents receive at home.
Something to keep in mind when assessing your aging parent’s ability to care for themselves is that what is normal for your parents may not be normal for others. Nobody knows your parents as you do so if something seems off to you, listen to that.
One more consideration is to remember, they are your parents and will always have tht parental instinct to protect you. They’ve been your protectors for so long that it’s hard for them to admit a weakness such as needing help.
Identifying Red Flags in the Home
If you visit your parents, look for signs around the home.
- Expired and spoiled foods – If the fridge hasn’t been cleaned out in some time and you can spot old or moldy food around the kitchen, chances are that your parents are struggling and could use some help around the house.
- Collection calls and letters – If bills are getting left unpaid, the power is getting turned off or notices are being sent about shutting off services like the phone bill, the internet, the power or water, it is time to develop a plan to provide financial assistance or help writing checks to pay bills.
- Mood Swings/Outbursts – Aging adults who are experiencing mood swings and angry outbursts could be struggling with bigger cognitive issues like dementia or Alzheimer’s. This often leads to confusion and forgetfulness which can cause even more problems for you and your loved ones. This is a big sign that your parents need extra support at home.
- Depression – Aging adults might show signs of depression-like loss of appetite, loss of interest in activities, and oversleeping. If your parents seem depressed, sad, and lacking the energy they once had – consider getting additional support for them. In-home aides offer companionship that they otherwise might not get, and that is important in improving the quality of life for seniors.
- Hoarding/clutter – If you notice that your once clean and tidy parent’s home is filling up with clutter and garbage, that is a sign that they are struggling on their own. Take some time to sit down and talk with them about your concerns. Clutter in the home is a safety hazard and can cause an increase in falls and injuries. Communicate your worries and ask your parents what kind of help they could use.
- Decline in personal hygiene – Personal hygiene (or lack of) is a big red flag in the ability of your parents to care for themselves. Wearing dirty or tattered clothing, staying in pajamas for days at a time, and not showering are all signs that your parents could be suffering from emotional and/or mental conditions that require help.
If you are having trouble identifying the signs that your parents may need help or if you are noticing some things that seem off and that you are concerned about, talk to your parent’s doctor or another trusted professional like a therapist who can help provide resources and information. The important thing is to be aware of red flags and to take action to learn more.
Many adult children consult with a home care agency to assess what type of care may help their parents live fuller lives.