10 Ways to Know Your Older Parents Need Help

For over 70 years, baby boomers set the pace for the U.S. economy and lifestyle. Now, they’re aging in record numbers, and the coronavirus pandemic is making the problem even more visible. With around 70 million members, they are challenging the health care system and charting a new course for retirees. The coronavirus pandemic has made that problem even more visible. 

10 Ways to Know

1.  Mobility

Because aging requires lifestyle changes, the things that worked in the past may no longer be practical. Do your parents have trouble getting up from chairs? Is their home safe, or are there safety hazards like throw rugs and clutter? Do they still drive, and can they do it safely? Are they able to take care of their lawn, replace light bulbs, or prepare meals? Is there someone to check on them regularly? 

2.  Memory

One of the first signs of memory loss is unpaid bills and forgotten appointments. Are their financial affairs in order? Do they frequently lose things or forget to take their medications? A little forgetfulness is normal, especially in times of stress, but not taking prescription drugs or taking them incorrectly can be deadly. 

3.  Diet

Dehydration is common among older people, and signs can be subtle. Are they drinking enough water and eating healthy foods?  Are canned goods and refrigerated foods out of date? Are they losing weight or feeling sluggish? A deficiency in protein can affect muscles and immunity. 

4.  Social Isolation

Studies show that being part of a community helps people fight off illnesses and live longer, but aging makes it more difficult to get out and meet people. Do your parents have friends or activities that involve others? Do they show interest in old hobbies and interests, or are they becoming isolated? 

5.  Personality

Most people don’t develop personality disorders late in life, but pre-existing ones may reappear or worsen with age. Certain medications affect behavior, and so do various types of dementia. Do your parents seem overly suspicious or afraid of other people? Do they exhibit odd behaviors or seem to lose touch with reality?

6.  Personal Hygiene

Extreme changes in personal hygiene can be a sign of physical or mental problems. Has your mom or dad’s appearance changed? Unkempt clothing and neglected hair can be a sign of deeper issues, such as depression or Alzheimer’s. Do they forget to brush their teeth, or do they have trouble getting around? Do they have access to what they need to care for themselves?

7.  Physical Disabilities

People who have conditions like diabetes or heart disease may need help in developing and maintaining a daily routine. If arthritis makes it difficult to climb the stairs, it may be time to work on an ongoing plan to make life easier. Vision and dental problems, for example, make it hard to eat a healthy diet or pay bills. 

8.  Frequent Injuries or Accidents

Are you seeing an increase in burns or bruises? Do your parents have a plan for getting help in an emergency? Bumps and bruises may be tell-tale signs of accidents they’re keeping a secret because they’re embarrassed or don’t want to be a bother.

9. Disheveled or Cluttered Home

If your parents have always had an immaculate home and things are getting cluttered and disorganized, it may be time to get household help. It’s also important to address the cause of the change.

10. Damage to Vehicles

Unexplained dents and scratches on their car may be a sign your parents can no longer drive safely. This raises two questions: why they’re having a problem and what you can do about it.

The Take-Away

It’s good to prepare for an emergency ahead of time, but it’s also hard to predict the future. Whatever you do, include your parents in the conversation. They’re more likely to buy into the plan if they think they’ve helped you decide what the next steps will be. 
From the family doctor to home care companions, you have a wide range of options for live-in care in Long Island and other areas. You’ll also find well-trained people who can help with housekeeping, medication and transportation. Some services are on-call for 24 hours a day.

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