You will notice that as the years go by, your aging parent will start to lose independence and may start to struggle physically and/or mentally. Aging is a natural part of life, but it is also something that can be difficult to see, and you will want to do all that you can to help. It can be tricky to know both when the right time to speak to them and what steps you can take to help, so here are a few signs that it might be time to have a serious conversation with them and any other family members so that you can work together to find the best course of action.
They Are Struggling with Daily Tasks
The most obvious sign that your aging parent is beginning to struggle is that they are finding it hard to perform regular daily tasks, such as getting dressed, bathing and making food for themselves. This is often what causes the most frustration, so you always need to be empathetic and try to work out what the best solution would be for them.
If they have bruises, cuts, scrapes, and other marks on their body, then this is a sign that they have had a fall. They may try to hide this from you and not tell you about a fall as not to worry you, but falls can be incredibly dangerous and are common as people begin to age.
Health issues are a sign that your aging parent might need help. It is sad to see, but people do begin to suffer from health issues as they age, and this could be anything. Some of the most common signs of knee arthritis include crippling pain, difficulty walking, and limited range of motion. If you notice any of these symptoms in your elderly parent, it is strongly recommended that they see a functional health doctor. This doctor can help them manage their arthritis and restore their mobility.
The Home Is Run Down
Whenever you visit your parent, it is always a good idea to take notice of what state the house is in. If it is unclea, some things do not work, and if there is a buildup of post, then it is a clear sign that they are struggling to look after themselves and this could also be dangerous for them.
Similarly, you should always take notice of how they appear and whether or not they can look after their appearance. If they are wearing tattered and unclean clothing, they have not shaved and generally have an unkempt appearance. You may need to think about bringing in a career to help them out with daily living tasks or moving them into senior living communities which often give seniors a new lease of life as well as help them to get the care that they need while still providing some independence. These communities encourage them to be social and active, but they also still get the feeling of living independently, which is a healthy balance.
Poor Personal Hygiene
Following this, if they have poor personal hygiene, then again, this is a clear indicator that they are struggling and will need help. Body odor, bad breath, long fingernails, and similar issues should not be ignored, and you should help them as you can but also consider some form of care to help with issues like this.
Change in Behavior
A behavior change is always worrying and can sometimes be a sign of a health issue. If they go through mood swings, seem to get confused, or generally are not their normal selves then this could be a sign that they need some form of support and may also need to see a healthcare professional to rule out conditions like dementia.
Another crucial aspect to consider when assessing the needs of an aging parent is their eyesight. Poor eyesight can be a significant indicator of their declining independence. If you notice them struggling to read, watch television, or discern objects in their surroundings, it's a clear sign that their vision is deteriorating. This can not only affect their daily tasks but also pose safety risks. Encourage them to visit an eye specialist for a thorough examination and discuss potential solutions, such as prescription glasses or corrective treatments. Getting reliable eye specs can significantly enhance their quality of life and overall well-being. Addressing their visual impairment can make a difference in their ability to maintain their independence and continue enjoying a fulfilling life.
It is very easy for seniors to become isolated, and this is always a cause for concern because it can have a big impact on their mental health and well-being. Ideally, they will socialize with family and friends throughout the week and/or have hobbies and activities that will help them engage with society. As mentioned, if the only socializing that they do with the family then places like senior living communities can be a smart idea.
Not Happy in Their Life
A clear indication that they may need help is if they are not happy in their life. If they have lost interest in activities that they usually enjoy, seem withdrawn, or seem to only complain about their health then this is a clear sign that something is not right, and you need to take action.
Leading an Unhealthy Lifestyle
While an unhealthy lifestyle does not always signify that they need help, it is a cause for concern, and you will want to try to take action to encourage them to lead a more healthy lifestyle. Being active is important, but you should also try to get an idea of what their diet is like either by asking them what they have been eating or taking note of what food they have in the home. Additionally, you should ask them how they are sleeping as if they are not getting enough sleep; then this could be impacting many different areas of their life.
Missing Appointments/Cancelled Plans
If your parent forgets about plans or appointments, then this is always a red flag and one that should be looked into. Additionally, if they make plans but then cancel them then this could signify a mental health problem such as depression which again needs to be taken very seriously.
These are just a few signs that an aging parent may need some kind of help. They do not necessarily signify an issue, but you should keep a lookout for the above and discuss both with your parents and any other family members and/or their support network. Communication is key to success here, so you need to make sure that you can all happily communicate and work together to find the best solution for everyone.