Caring for an aging parent form afar can make it difficult to notice changes in their health status and emotional wellbeing. Sometimes a parent may recognize that they need help and be able to ask for it, but oftentimes they may not want to cause worry or feel too embarrassed to ask for additional support. The holiday season is a good time for an in-person visit to spend quality time together doing things your loved one enjoys. However, it also presents the perfect time to observe their daily life and look for signs that they make need support at home. While each person is different, there are specific things you can look for during your next visit with your aging parent.
Signs Your Parent May Need Additional Help
It can be really challenging to notice differences in your loved one if don’t live close by or see your aging parent regularly. As they age, older adults may withdraw from social activities or experience cognitive decline, which can cause them to be inconsistent with their medication or stop taking care of themselves or their home. According to the National Institute on Aging, depression, which is common among older adults, can also cause behavioral changes in older adults, making it more difficult to complete basic daily tasks. Depressed older adults may cheer up for a phone call or short visit, which can make it more difficult to notice changes in their overall wellbeing. During your next visit, you may consider looking out for the following behaviors that often indicate a need for additional care:
Changes in the home environment
Make a point of visiting your loved one’s living environment and observing what you see. Is their home messier and more cluttered than usual? Scorched cookware and burns on the countertops may indicate that your loved one is having a difficult time preparing meals. Check the refrigerator for expired food, which can pose safety concerns and could signal that your loved one isn’t eating properly.
Weight loss or gain
The process of purchasing, preparing and consuming food can become difficult for older adults, especially if they are experiencing cognitive decline or mobility issues. If you notice weight loss or weight gain the next time you see your loved one, it may be time to have a conversation about utilizing different services to help with meal preparation.
During the holiday season or the next visit with your loved one, take time to observe how they are taking their medications. Are they forgetting completely? Do they struggle with organizing their medications? Do they take medications at the proper time each day? These observations could indicate a need for medication assistance. This could look like hiring outside help to administer medication or purchasing an automated pill dispenser that comes with verbal reminders and alarms.
Stacks of unpaid or overdue bills, bounced checks, late payment notices and expired registration on vehicles could be a sign your loved one is struggling to manage household and financial duties. This behavior could also be a sign that something else might be wrong, including cognitive decline and increased forgetfulness.
Changes in mood and behavior
If your loved one appears depressed and is withdrawing from their normally scheduled routine, it could be a sign that they need more support at home. Depression, anxiety and social isolation can have profound negative effects on older adults’ health and overall wellbeing.
Changes in physical function
It’s important to realize that as your parent ages, they may not be able to do what they once did in their younger years. However, if your loved one is slowing down considerably, it’s important to identify this and seek medical consult. For example, if your loved one usually walks every morning or plays golf weekly and abruptly stops participating in these activities, it could be a sign that something is wrong.
Tips for Keeping Your Aging Parent Safe at Home
As you notice signs that your aging parent may need support at home, there are simple solutions to make sure they’re safe at home and getting the care they need. According to AARP and Senior Safety Advice, here are a few ways you can get started:
Assisted Living at Maplewood Senior Living
If you think it may be time for your aging parent to transition to assisted living, our communities at Maplewood Senior Living are happy to help answer any questions. Our assisted living option empowers your loved one to live more independently by providing discreet assistance based on their unique needs and goals. At Maplewood Senor Living, we develop a personalized plan that supports longevity and enhances life. To learn more about our offerings or to schedule a tour, please contact us.
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