Visiting your aging parents for the holidays after not having seen them for a while can be eye-opening. You might notice some changes – confusion when they’re relaying a story, less agility when they’re getting out of a chair – but there also could be some serious red flags that your parents might need the help of a caregiver or a different living situation.
Here are some things to look for:
Change in routine – Have they lost interest in social activities they used to engage in and/or have they distanced themselves from friends and/or family?
Poor eating habits – Check the refrigerator, is it well stocked or is it pretty bare with expired food? Are they eating regularly?
Not managing finances – Are there stacks of mail and bills unopened? Take a glance at their check book and bank statements to make sure they’re paying bills promptly, not bouncing check or overspending.
Disregard for personal hygiene – Is your mom the type that has always been perfectly dressed and groomed? Has she lost interest in her appearance? Does your dad seem rather disheveled? These could be signs of depression or another issue.
Frequent injuries – Chances are your parents might not want you to know if they’ve slipped and fallen or injured themselves. Look for signs of bruises, a limp and/or that they’re favoring one arm over another. Check the house for fall hazards such as throw rugs, clutter on the floor – especially near stairs, slippery surfaces in the bathroom and poor lighting on staircases.
It’s hard to admit that your parents are getting older and need help but it’s important to take a realistic look at the situation. But, be careful how you bring up the subject to your parents as you certainly could meet with resistance – but that’s for another blog!