6 Signs Your Aging Parent Needs Help

Senior man and his son having a conversation

No one likes to admit they need help as they age, especially a parent who values their independence. But ignoring the problem won’t make it go away. The last thing you want to do is wait until a health crisis forces you to make a quick decision when emotions are running high and options may be limited.

It’s better for everyone if you can have a conversation with your aging parent before a health crisis occurs. How do you know when the time is right? Look for the following signs.

Signs that an aging parent needs help.

If you’re concerned about a parent’s health and safety, look for the following signs.  

1. Difficulty getting around

Muscle weakness and joint pain are common among older adults, as are balance and vision problems. If your mom or dad is having difficulty getting around, that’s a red flag for a potential fall, which could lead to a broken hip and a move to a long-term care facility.

  • Are they struggling to sit or stand?
  • Do they have to rock back and forth before getting out of a chair?
  • Does sitting down seem to involve falling backward into a chair?
  • Are they unsteady on their feet?
  • Have they fallen lately?

2. Changes in appearance

If a parent is having difficulty cooking, has lost their interest in eating, or is failing to keep up with daily routines such as bathing and brushing teeth, you should investigate. It could signal depression, be an early sign of dementia, a physical impairment, or other concerns.  

  • Are they losing weight without an obvious explanation?
  • Do they look rumpled or disheveled?
  • Is their personal hygiene lacking?
  • Is their clothing soiled or wet?
  • Have you noticed any unexplained bruises?

3. Forgetfulness

Losing car keys from time to time or momentarily forgetting why you walked into a room is a normal part of aging. But misplacing things often or getting lost could be a sign of serious memory problems.

  • Are they repeating themselves?
  • Do they have trouble paying bills or cooking recipes they’ve used for years?
  • Are familiar tasks, such as driving or using a phone, becoming difficult?
  • Are they having trouble taking care of a pet?
  • Are they withdrawing from social activities?

4. Changes in behavior

Aging brings a cascade of physical and emotional changes, which can lead to a variety of behavioral changes. Be alert to warning signs, but it’s normal for older adults to have bouts of sadness, anger, or the occasional memory lapse.

  • Are the yard and house being kept up?
  • Are there expired groceries in the fridge?
  • Is your whiz-of-a-cook mother eating fast food and snacks?
  • Are they missing important appointments?
  • Does Dad take long naps during the day?

5. Unsafe driving habits

Hanging up the car keys is a tough decision for older adults. How will they get their groceries, visit their doctor, or see their grandchildren? It’s a hard pill to swallow, but the alternative — hurting themselves or someone else on the road — is life-threatening.

  • Do they drive too fast or too slow for road conditions?
  • Do they get lost in familiar locations?
  • Do they have difficulty staying in the correct lane?
  • Are there unexplained dents and scrapes on their car?
  • Have they been ticketed recently or been in an accident?

6. Isolation

For many older adults, staying connected isn’t as easy as it used to be. But people who stay in touch with family and friends tend to be healthier in their golden years. Isolation, on the other hand, increases the risk for depression and illness.

  • Are your parents connecting with friends?
  • Have they lost interest in their hobbies and other daily activities?
  • Are they involved in clubs or faith-based communities?
  • Do they smile or laugh like they used to?
  • When was the last time they did something they loved?

Where to turn for help

When you notice signs your aging parent needs help, talk it over with them. Explain why you feel concerned for their health, and be a good listener. There’s bound to be some resistance if they feel a loss of control over their lives. Your loved one may also be more receptive to the advice of their doctor or other professional about receiving care.

While you give your loved one time to get used to the idea of a potential move to a senior living community, start researching options in your area. One option that works well for many families is a Life Plan Community. This type of senior living community offers independent living along with a continuum of care, including assisted living and skilled nursing. Some communities, such as Rolling Green Village, also offer memory care.

Not only do residents of Life Plan Communities have access to the care they need, but they also have access to a host of services and amenities designed to support their well-being. In addition, residents benefit from being part of a community of good friends and neighbors. To learn more about how Rolling Green Village can make life better for your aging parent, get in touch. We love making new friends.