7 Signs Your Aging Parent May Need Help


1) They don’t look quite put together. If your mother always has her hair and nails done and you notice she’s lost interest in maintaining her appearance, this could be a sign of an issue. You might notice a lack or lessening of good hygiene habits. Maybe your dad doesn’t seem to be showering regularly, which may be because he’s afraid of falling in the shower or has difficulties bathing. If he has unexplained bruises on his body, these may indicate trouble balancing and walking – or that he’s had a fall.


2) The house is unkempt.  Are stacks of mail sitting around their home? Do the floors and living spaces seem dirty? Your parents ’mobility may be more limited than they’ve told you about – making it more difficult for them to bend over to pick up. Their eyesight may be worsening to the point that they don’t see the dirt or grime. As far as the mail, they may be confused as to what to do with piles of letters and leave bills unpaid.


3) Their refrigerator has spoiled food. Looking in their refrigerator, is most of the food past its expiration date or showing visible signs of mold? It could be that your parent is having difficulty driving to the store for fresh food. And perhaps his vision isn’t sharp enough to catch that the strawberries have gone bad or his sense of smell strong enough to catch the odor of food that’s no longer edible.


4) There are dings and dents on their car. Your parent may not be ready to admit that they are not able to drive safely.  Scrapes on their car may signal that they are having difficulty parking their car properly.  Due to poor vision or lessening fine motor skills. You might consider going for a drive with your parent to assess their driving skills firsthand.


5) They aren’t taking their medications. Figuring out whether your parent is taking his medications on time and in the right dosage can be difficult. This may take a little detective work, such as peeking at your parent’s medications. If the bottles are full, or his pillbox seems untouched, that may indicate he’s been forgetting to take these.


6) There is a significant change in their social behavior. When there is a lack of interest in doing activities they once really liked to do, that might be a cause for concern. If they were active in the community a year ago, or a few months ago, and they’re not any longer, that’s something to look for. If your parent has never been interested in going to a senior or community center, you shouldn’t expect they they’ll automatically start going once they reach a certain age.


7) They are becoming forgetful. Does your parent have duplicates of several grocery or other items? Does she forget something she just told you over the phone the next time you chat? Dementia affects about 10.5 percent of those ages 65 and older.     

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