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June 13, 2024

What are the Signs Your Aging Parent Needs Care?

Aging parents may try to mask their pressing feelings if they believe it will cause worry for their children and family. You have to understand that they're grown adults who don't want to become burdens to you. 


However, despite their independence and life experiences, they may reach a point where they require additional care and support. As a caring and observant family member, it's important to recognize the signs your aging parent needs help.


So, what are the warning signs that indicate that your aging parents or loved ones may need more help than usual?


Common Signs Your Aging Parents Need Help

Below are telltale signs your parents may need more care than they're currently getting, whether they live alone, in hospice care, or in senior living or assisted living communities. 


1. Difficulty with Activities of Daily Living

You may notice a decline in their enthusiasm or energy in keeping up with things they used to do on their own. Look out for these early signs:

  • Struggling with personal hygiene, such as infrequent bathing, body odor, or unkempt appearance.
  • Trouble with basic grooming tasks, such as brushing hair or teeth, or maintaining nail hygiene.
  • Inadequate nutrition due to challenges with tasks like grocery shopping, meal preparation, or forgetting to eat.

When helping with daily living activities, understand that all they need is a little extra help. Avoid situations that might make them feel a loss of independence.


2. Mobility Issues

Mobility issues can be a sign of declining health. At this stage, they may need a home health aide or a caregiver to assist with moving around the house. Look out for:

  • Noticeable changes in walking patterns, such as shuffling feet, taking small steps, or walking with unsteady movements.
  • Difficulty getting in and out of chairs, beds, or vehicles without assistance.
  • Increased reliance on mobility aids, like canes, walkers, or wheelchairs.

3. Forgetfulness and Confusion

Many older adults may begin to experience forgetfulness and confusion as a symptom of underlying mental health conditions like dementia or Alzheimer's disease. They may experience:

  • Frequent memory lapses, such as forgetting recent conversations, events, or the names of familiar people.
  • Difficulty following step-by-step instructions or completing familiar tasks independently.
  • Confusion about time, date, or location, and getting disoriented even in familiar surroundings.

4. Poor Medication Management

If your mom or dad has multiple chronic health conditions that require regulated medications with periods of usage, this is an indication that they need more care, especially if they also need memory care. Look out for:

  • Missed doses or taking their medications at incorrect times.
  • Mixing up medications, resulting in potential interactions or adverse effects.
  • Trouble organizing medications in pillboxes or confusion about medication instructions.

5. Neglected Home Maintenance

Remember that aging parents don't want to bother their adult children and may not ask for help until things have gone out of hand. Some signs that may show that they're neglecting home maintenance are:

  • Decline in housekeeping, with noticeable dust, clutter, or piles of unwashed dishes or laundry.
  • Difficulty keeping up with basic home repairs or maintenance tasks.
  • Neglected yard or garden, with overgrown grass, weeds, or unattended plants.

6. Social Withdrawal and Isolation

While it's crucial to enjoy the comfort of their own home, if your aging loved one's interest in social activities begins to decline, they may need some mental or emotional help. They may show signs like:

  • A significant decrease in social interactions, avoiding calls, visits, or social activities they once enjoyed.
  • Loss of interest or disengagement from hobbies, clubs, or community events.
  • Signs of loneliness or sadness, expressing feelings of being alone or isolated.

In situations like this, companionship might just be all they need.


7. Changes in Mood or Behavior

Changes in mood and behavior might be an indication of declining overall health. Like everyone else, when parents need assistance and can't assess it, they may become irritated. You'll notice signs like:

  • Increased irritability, agitation, or unexplained mood swings.
  • Noticeable signs of anxiety, depression, or withdrawal from social interactions.
  • Exhibiting uncharacteristic behaviors, such as increased forgetfulness, paranoia, or confusion.

8. Unexplained Weight Loss

While weight loss may be common among older adults, weight loss without any form of health challenge might be a sign that your senior loved one needs senior care but may be afraid to say it.

  • Significant or unintentional weight loss without a clear explanation.
  • Changes in appetite or difficulty preparing meals, leading to inadequate nutrition.

9. Neglected Finances and Bills

Older adults may start to forget about their financial obligations, leading to missed payments, accrued debt, and potential financial hardships.

  • Difficulty paying bills and meeting up with financial obligations even when they have the money.
  • Unusual or excessive spending habits, unopened mail, or disorganized financial records.

10. Unsafe Driving

Part of keeping older adults safe and well is ensuring they don't get in car accidents when driving. If you notice these signs, it might be time to stop them from driving or hire someone to help, if you can't.

  • Increased frequency of traffic violations, accidents, or near misses.
  • Slower reaction times, difficulty staying within lanes, or trouble reading road signs.
  • Reluctance or inability to drive at night or in unfamiliar areas.
  • Noticeable dents or scratches on their cars.

11. Increased Health Issues

Among adults aged 65 to 74 years, 74.6% of falls occur at home. Falls among adults aged 65 and older are costly, with approximately $50 billion spent on medical costs related to older adult falls each year. Your parent might need in-home care if you notice:

  • Frequent or unexplained bruises, injuries, or infections.
  • Unattended or worsening chronic health conditions.
  • Difficulty managing multiple medications or medical appointments.

12. Emotional or Psychological Changes

If you notice they're struggling with these signs, it might be time to invest in home care for your parents.

  • Signs of increased confusion, paranoia, or hallucinations.
  • Expressing feelings of loneliness, helplessness, or hopelessness.
  • Sudden mood changes, expressions of sadness, or loss of interest in previously enjoyed activities.

Remember, if you observe any of these signs or have concerns about your aging parents' health and well-being, it's crucial to have open and honest conversations with them and involve healthcare professionals, social workers, or caregiving agencies to assess their needs and provide appropriate support.


How to Help an Aging Loved One That Needs More Help at Home

If you're seeing any of the signs mentioned above and want to meet your loved senior at the point of their needs, below are the steps to take:

  • Open Communication: Have open, honest conversations with your loved one about their needs and concerns. Listen attentively and validate their feelings while expressing your willingness to help.
  • Assess Their Needs: Study their care needs by observing their daily activities and consulting with healthcare professionals or geriatric care managers. Identify areas where they require assistance with daily living.
  • Create a Supportive Environment: Make home modifications to ensure home safety and accessibility, such as installing grab bars, improving lighting, or removing tripping hazards.
  • Seek Professional Assistance: Research and engage professional services as needed, such as an aging-in-place program, home healthcare aides, meal delivery services, or transportation services for medical appointments.
  • Establish a Care Plan: Develop a care plan in collaboration with your loved one, considering their preferences and involving other family members if applicable. You can make this even easier by working with a care coordinator.
  • Provide Emotional Support: Offer emotional support, spend quality time with them, and encourage social engagement through activities and connections with friends or community groups.
  • Encourage Independence: Promote autonomy by enabling your loved one to participate in decision-making and daily activities as much as possible.
  • Seek Respite and Support for Yourself: Caring for an aging loved one can be demanding. Take breaks, seek support from family, friends, or support groups, and consider respite care options to prevent caregiver burnout.

Many adult children don't know when their parents need help and those who know don't know how to help. The guidelines above will help you see when they need you and how you can support them to lead a more enjoyable senior life.


Final Words

Supporting an aging loved one who needs more help at home requires open communication, careful assessment, and a thoughtful approach to assisting.


By creating a supportive environment, seeking professional assistance when necessary, and establishing a comprehensive care plan, you can ensure their safety, well-being, and quality of life.

Healthy aging is hard on your own. Kendal at Home can help you age well and enjoy your retirement.

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