We all want the best for our loved ones, especially as they continue to age. In general, many older adults are slow to ask for help, particularly when it involves their adult children. You may notice your aging parent neglecting to tell you or a loved one about a recent fall or a decline in their health or mobility. Adult children who live far away or only see their loved ones a few times a year may find it difficult to know exactly what’s going on in their parent’s daily life. If your parents live in their own home, the holiday season is a good time to assess their safety and figure out what to do when a parent can’t live alone. If you have suspicions about their ability to care for themselves, there are a few warning signs to look for the next time you see them.
Signs Your Parents Can’t Live Alone
How do you know when your elderly parents need help? The next time you see your loved one in person, pay special attention to their home environment and look for anything that seems abnormal. In addition, when aging parents can’t live alone, you want to start gently discussing their plans for the future, including housing options and hiring additional care if needed. Here’s how to know when an elderly person can’t live alone:
- Sudden weight loss. If you notice your parent has lost weight, it could be a sign that they’re struggling to prepare their meals and eat well. Sudden weight loss can also signal more serious health concerns that may need to be addressed by a physician.
- Medication management. The next time you visit your loved one’s home, check their medications for any expired pill bottles and look for signs of mismanagement. If their medications are spread out throughout the home, are sitting loose on the countertops, or if you notice your parent taking them incorrectly, it could be a sign that they need a higher level of care.
- Safety and mobility at home. Pay special attention to your loved one’s ability to get around their home. Are they having pain that you didn’t notice the last time you visited? Are they having issues getting to the bathroom, out of the bed, or up from a chair? If you’re wondering, “How can I help my elderly parent safely stay at home?,” you may consider installing grab bars and encouraging your loved one to use mobility aids and an emergency response system.
- Personal hygiene. Is your loved one ignoring their personal hygiene? An unkempt physical appearance, body odor, or soiled clothing can be a sign that your loved one is unable to take care of themselves without additional support.
- Home environment. What does their home look like? Is there expired food in the fridge? Are there fall hazards around the home? If your parent’s home is in disarray, it’s very likely they’re struggling to keep up with activities of daily living.
- Financial management. The next time you’re visiting your loved one’s home, look for stacks of unopened mail, past-due bills, and unopened envelopes from creditors or charities you don’t recognize. This can be a sign your loved one is no longer able to make sound financial decisions. This type of spending can rapidly drive your loved one into debt, so it’s crucial to address the problem as soon as you notice the signs.
- Driving. Are your parents still driving safely? Take a look at their vehicle and see if you notice new dings or scratches. If your loved one has gotten lost while driving to familiar destinations, it could be time to coordinate an alternative means of transportation for doctor appointments, grocery shopping, and other errands.
- Socialization. Are your parents beginning to withdraw from their routine social activities? Are they isolated from others because they’re unable or unwilling to leave their home? If your loved one is showing signs of depression or social withdrawal, this could signal other major health concerns.
How to Talk to Your Aging Parents About Getting Help
Talking with your loved one about your concerns can be overwhelming and knowing where to start can feel impossible. However, helping elderly parents doesn’t have to be that difficult. When you’re trying to figure out how to talk to your parents about moving into senior living, instead of surprising them, gently voice your concerns and schedule a time to discuss their options. Always lead with empathy and practice listening to their needs, worries, and desires. It’s also a good idea to come prepared with community living options. You may even consider touring a few communities on your loved one’s behalf to make the process seem less overwhelming. Here are some ways to get the conversation started:
- Do you feel safe in your home?
- What could you use help with on a daily basis?
- What does your ideal living situation look like?
- Where would you like to live?
- What are your thoughts on exploring senior living communities?
Living at Maplewood Senior Living
At Maplewood Senior Living, we know most older adults imagine living out their lives in their family homes. However, we also know the majority of older adults will need additional support at one point in the aging process. Our senior living communities are designed to feel like home, but also offer the support and amenities for a healthy and safe living environment. To learn more about our communities or to schedule a tour, please contact us today.