Getting old is a part of life. When it comes to age, no matter who you are, old age can sneak up on you. For adult children, sometimes it can be a challenge to see your parent getting older. Perhaps they were okay on your last visit, but small changes in health and behavior can lead to big problems in the future. It is important to be aware of these changes and get your parent(s) the assistance they need as they grow older.
Depending on your parent's needs, adult day healthcare centers, assisted living, or even nursing homes might be the best choice. Look at your parent's needs and wants and what level of service your family can afford to determine what will be best for them as they continue to age.
Aging parents often struggle to admit or accept help with daily living tasks. After all, they’ve been doing these tasks since before you were born. But sometimes the daily living activities you’ve been doing your whole life can be too much in old age. Know your limits and know your parent’s limits by looking for these key signs they may need help.
1. Disheveled clothing – Disheveled clothing is a sign that your parent is struggling with basic daily living tasks. This indicates that your parent should have help with getting ready in the mornings and performing basic daily tasks like laundry.
2. Broken appliances – Broken appliances, as well as rundown parts of the house exterior or interior, is a sign that your parent needs help. It is clear they cannot manage all the upkeep that comes with living alone. Perhaps they cannot get to the store to buy a new appliance, or they don’t have the energy to fix or buy a new appliance. Regardless, it is necessary to step in to ensure their place of living is good for them.
3. Changes in mood or extreme mood swings – If your parent starts behaving erratically or their personality takes a shift, this is a sign their independent living status is no longer working. Watch out for periods of depression and other mood shifts as well as actions outside of normal behavior.
4. Poor personal hygiene habits – Similar to disheveled clothing, poor hygiene is a sign that your parent needs help with basic living tasks. Perhaps they have a hard time standing in the morning and cannot get done all the basic morning hygiene habits. Perhaps they are scared of falling in the shower. No matter the reason, poor personal hygiene is a huge indication that your parent needs help.
5. Unexplained bruising – This can come from your parent accidently walking into walls and forgetting. Or, they lost balance and fell down, but don’t want to say anything. Bruising can also be a sign of more serious health issues. If you notice consistent, unexplained bruising, it is important to find out what’s going on and get your parent the medical or social help they need to prevent further bruising and future injuries.
6. Missing important appointments/events – Forgetfulness, mentioned below, is a part of aging. However, missing important appointments and events can be a sign of the beginning of dementia. When your parent starts forgetting their doctor’s appointment or long planned events, it can have a negative effect on their health or your family’s time together. Watch out for this behavior and help your parent stay on top of important events.
7. Cluttered, dirty or disorganized household – If your parent, who is usually very clean and organized, starts living a different lifestyle, that could be a sign they can no longer handle performing daily living tasks on their own. Just like changes in behavior and mood, if your parent’s house is abnormally dirty or disorganized, this is a sign they need help.
8. Unexplained dents or scratches in their car – This could possibly mean that they are running into things while driving and that they should probably no longer be driving themselves around. Not only does this indicate a safety hazard for your parent but also everyone else on the road.
9. Loss of interest in hobbies/activities – Although our parents may be less active in their old age, it is important that they still maintain their interests and social activities. Socializing is important, even in old age. If your parent stops socializing and becomes reclusive, it is up to you to help keep them as socially active as possible. If they lose interest in hobbies they once loved, this is a sign they may need help with daily living.
10. Forgetfulness – As we age, our memories tend to decline and we forget things we once remembered. After all, by the time you are of old age, you will have a lot of memories and information to try and store away. Forgetfulness can become a problem when you start forgetting more than just your childhood memories or how to multiply by 9.
Whether it’s forgetting to take medications or forgetting how to do once-familiar tasks, these types of forgetfulness can be an early sign of dementia or other problems pending. Forgetting things like taking medication can also lead to dangerous health consequences. Regardless, if your parent starts forgetting important details, step in to help them remember.
Although these signs may seem small, they build up over time to reveal larger issues with health, behavior and daily living tasks. You can usually notice if something is “off” or outside the normal living habits of your parents. As parents age, keep a look out for their best interests. Repay the work they did raising you and help remain healthy and happy for as long as possible.
If you know your parent could use daily assistance but you can’t watch them every day and you don’t want to leave them in assisted living or nursing homes (which can get pricey), consider taking your parent to an adult day care center, such as Nevada Adult Day Healthcare Centers, and they will get the assistance they need during the day but still maintain their independence and live at home.