During the holidays, many families may have visited their aging loved ones, seeing them in-person for the first time in months, possibly even since last year. These visits are important because they provide families with time to reconnect and share in the joys of the season, but they also provide adult children with a valuable opportunity to check in on their parent’s physical and mental state.
While the holidays are certainly not the time to have a conversation about age-related changes and the need for assistance, it is important to look for signs that indicate your parents may need help, and make a plan to follow-up in the New Year.
4 Signs Your Parents May Need Help
Your Parent’s Health or Hygiene is Suffering
If your parents have scratches or bruises that they are unable or unwilling to explain, this can be cause for concern, as are other changes in your mom and dad’s health. Keep an eye out for significant weight loss, which could be related to an underlying illness, or a sign that they are unable to shop for and prepare balanced meals. Likewise, if your parents look disheveled and ungroomed, or are skipping baths and wearing dirty clothes, this is a good indication that they need assistance.
Your Parent’s Home is in Disarray
No one expects a spotless home, but take note if your parent’s housekeeping has slipped considerably since your last visit. For example, spoiled food in the cabinets or refrigerator, or no food at all, is a sign that your parents are having trouble taking of themselves. You’ll also want to be on the lookout for piles of dirty laundry, unopened mail or smelly garbage, as well as signs of mildew, mold or pest problems.
Your Parent has Become Forgetful
Memory lapses are normal as we age, but if you notice your parent’s forgetfulness is interfering with daily life and activities, it may be time to step in. Missed medication doses and doctor appointments, getting lost, failing to pay bills, and falling victim to a scam are all common warning signs. If you notice any of these, talk to your parent about getting a memory screening after the holidays.
Your Parent is Exhibiting Signs of Depression or Aggression
In addition to accessing your parent’s physical health, pay attention to your parent’s mood. If mom or dad appears more blue or withdrawn than normal, this could be a sign of depression. Signs of depression also include sleeping excessively, consuming too much alcohol/pain medication, or no longer doing the things they enjoy. Sudden bursts of anger or aggression, particularly over things that wouldn’t normal agitate them, as well as mood swings and personality changes, can also be a sign of dementia.
Getting Help for Seniors in Need
Assuming your parent isn’t in imminent danger – for example, leaving the stove on or wandering – there’s no need to have a difficult conversation about age-related changes during the holidays. However, it is important to look for signs that indicate your parents may need help, and make a plan to follow-up in the New Year.
The first step is to open the conversation. Rather than making the decision for your parent, be supportive and act as a resource so that you can arrive at a decision together.
If you and your parents ultimately decide that assistance is needed, we invite you to take a look at Blakeford. As Nashville’s premier provider of senior living options, we offer independent senior living, assisted living, skilled nursing and at-home care in Nashville TN.