Warning Signs for Aging Loved Ones that May Need Help

Warning signs a senior loved one needs help. 12/15/2014

Going home for the holidays can take on new meaning when you are an adult child who is concerned about an aging parent’s well-being.  The further away you live, the more important your holiday visit can be for evaluating how well they are managing daily life.   you are heading to a senior loved one’s home for a visit this month, we’ve pulled together a few warning signs that might indicate they need a little extra help.

What to Look for When Visiting an Aging Parent

What you are looking for when you visit your aging parent this holiday season are signs of significant change. They can include:

• Unintended weight gain or weight loss
• Change in their personal appearance such as unkempt hair or untidy clothing
• Problems with mobility as evidenced by a more sedentary lifestyle or pain when they are walking
• Difficulty holding up their end of a conversation
• Expired foods in the refrigerator
• Trashed piled up indoors or outdoors
• Calls from creditors about unpaid bills or stacks of unopened mail on the desk or counter
• Change in disposition or personality
• Change in sleep patterns such as up a lot in the night or sleeping too much during the daytime
• Dents and scratches on their car • Forgetfulness or confusion
• Finding belongings in strange places
• Difficulty remembering names of people or things

If more than a few of these could describe your aging parent’s condition, it might be a signal they need help.

What Should You Do Next?

First off, don’t panic and begin calling local nursing homes. Unless you feel like they are in immediate danger, it is best tackle this subject slowly. The problem might be caused by an infection, interaction among medications or another treatable health condition. Start by asking them if they are willing to schedule a visit with their primary care physician. It might require you to make a return visit soon, but it is likely a necessary one.

Next, make a list of the tasks your senior loved one seems to be struggling with and other concerns that you have. Once you are able to identify what their needs are, you can begin to investigate solutions.

Finally, educate yourself on senior care options in their local area. There are a variety of online resources that can help you with everything from Evaluating an Assisted Living Community to Transportation Options for Older Adults.