Close up of a grandfather having breakfast with his grandchildren

16 Signs Your Aging Parents Need Help & What To Do

16 Signs Your Aging Parents Need Help & What To Do

Whether it’s a visit during the holidays or a check-in after a few months, you may have noticed that something seemed off about your parents. Your first thought might be, “They’re just aging”. Though this is true, it could be significantly oversimplifying things.

As our parents age it is important to take note of their well-being. This goes beyond asking them how they are doing, though that is important. You need to be observant and during your next visit, note if any of the following signs present themselves.

Your Parent Is Practicing Bad Hygiene

We can all have our off days, but if your parent is starting to show signs of not taking care of themselves, it could be something more. Common signs of bad hygiene include:

  • Wearing dirty or soiled clothes
  • Not grooming hair or taking pride in their appearance
  • Noticeable body odor
  • Empty or missing toothpaste or soap in the bathroom

Your Parent’s House Is Cluttered

A home is not always presentable, but if your parent’s house has gotten to the point where it looks out of control, it could be a sign of longer standing issue. A few ways to tell if has gone beyond the normal falling behind on chores:

  • Laundry is piled up all over the place
  • You can’t see the kitchen table because it’s covered in mail
  • Sink full of dishes
  • Half-complete projects or broken items are left around

Your Parent Is Constantly Getting Sick

Senior woman blows her nose due to being sick

It is common that seniors get ill more frequently and these illnesses can be more severe and take longer to recover. That being said, if your parent never appears to be on the mend, has a nagging cough, or is in constant pain its time to see a doctor.

You Notice A Significant Mood Change

Has your parent changed into a completely different person? Are they having large mood swings or angry outbursts? How about becoming withdrawn or seemingly lost interest in everything? All of these are red flags that require deep conversation and evaluation by medical professionals.

Changes Or Loss Of Appetite

Have you noticed your parent has gained or lost a significant amount of weight? Are they passing on eating, or eating much less than they used to? These are all signs that there’s something going on that needs to be investigated.

Problems Remembering Commitments

We can all forget to show up to events or be late to dinners we misplaced in the bustle of life, but if your parent continually forgets, or misses common daily activities this warrants a discussion.

Unpaid or Overpaid Bills

Mail with balance overdue stamped on it

Managing personal finances is a major form of independence and often a private matter. It can be hard to get a peek inside, but if you notice unopened bills that are dated from prior months, or statements of credit for overpaying, or paying more than once, its time to have a discussion with them.

Mobility Issues & Difficulty Going Upstairs

As we age our balance can become unstable making getting around difficult. Stairs pose even more of a challenge as joint pain and stiffness and muscular atrophy can be debilitating. If you notice your parents waiting as long as possible to get up to go to the bathroom, sitting for hours on end, or having difficulty walking, or getting upstairs, action will need to be taken. Figuring out one-floor living arrangements or getting mobility devices can help alleviate some of these issues.

Property Is Showing Signs of Neglect/Needing Updates

If your parent owns property the first sign that help is needed is overgrown grass. Next is addressing any stairs into the house and the possible need for a ramp. If the outside of the home looks unkept and a trip inside reveals messes, it’s time to talk to them about getting outside help.

Expired Food Or An Empty Fridge

Empty fridge with spoiled carrot

If a look inside your parent’s fridge reveals expired or moldy food it can be a clear sign that your parents are not eating, or are at risk of food illness. Another thing to look for is if the fridge and cupboards are mostly empty, and if there’s lots of takeout. Though getting food out can be a great treat, having this food at every meal can have adverse health effects. Your parent may qualify for healthy food delivery services or it might be time to start helping them cook meals.

Loss of Interest

Similar to significant mood changes, a loss of interest in activities your parent previously loved is a clear warning sign of mental health issues. Partaking in and encouraging your parent to be more involved in activities, as well as looking into medication can help lift their spirits and ultimately their health.

Unexplained Bruising

Does your parent constantly have new bruises that when you ask how they got it they don’t answer or tell you they don’t know? It could be that they are falling and due to pride they are not telling you. It could also be that they are not remembering a larger sign that memory and their safety could be an issue. It’s important to note any new burns, cuts, or bruises.


Forgetful senior man holding a hand to his head

More than forgetting commitments there are many additional signs that your parent’s memory is suffering. Here are a few common signs of forgetfulness:

  • Bills piling up
  • Not taking medicine as prescribed
  • Not remembering familiar routes
  • Misplacing familiar friends or family names
  • Misusing words
  • Losing track of time

If you notice any of these signs you should look around the house for other signs of safety issues such as burners left on, and items left precariously in a way that is a tripping hazard. Check the medicine cabinet and see if the medicine is ahead of schedule or falling behind.

Driving Erratic Or Car Showing Signs of An Accident

Being able to drive yourself is the ultimate freedom that seniors want to hold on to for as long as possible. With many activities requiring driving, it’s common that seniors will hide accidents or deny erratic driving in fear of losing their license. If you notice new dents in the car, paint scuffs, or something’s busted, it’s time to talk. You may also need to spy on their driving or check in with neighbors and those close by to see if they witnessed any poor driving behavior.

It can be disheartening to take away the keys, but your parents’ safety and that of everyone on the road is important and should not be overlooked.


Sleep does not always come easy. For most people, a stressful period may lead to loss of sleep. Some have slept poorly their whole life. For everyone else, a sudden change or ongoing issue of insomnia could be a sign of other issues. If your parent is constantly complaining about not being able to fall asleep or waking up too early, it’s time to have a larger discussion and see how they can get their sleep in check.

Repeated Phone Calls

More than a sign that a loved one might be lonely, or bored, calling all the time to speak about the same things can be a sign of dementia. If a parent calls and repeats themselves multiple times a day, or calls super early in the morning or late at night, its time to take action. Having a doctor rule out dementia is a good start, then setting boundaries and establishing a sense of routine that can break them away from fixating on one particular situation or concern.

Get Help With Aging Parents

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 living, assisted living, skilled nursing, and at-home care in Nashville TN.

To learn more about Blakeford, contact us or call (615) 510-6374 to speak with a senior living specialist.