It can be tough to acknowledge that your parent isn’t as independent as they once were — especially if you’re not around them every day to recognize the signs. When you do go and visit them, it’s important to keep an eye out these 8 signs that they need extra help.
Changes in Personal Hygiene: Personal hygiene is a big part of independence, but for many elderly people, properly bathing, showering, or even getting dressed can be a challenge. Pay attention to any unusual smells, the state of their clothing, and signs that the bathtub or shower hasn’t been used in a while. Similarly, dirty, overworn clothing is a sign that they aren’t doing their laundry.
Unpaid Bills: Piles of unpaid bills and late payment notices indicate that your parents aren’t managing their finances. Having their electricity or water cut off due to non-payment or if collectors calling their home regularly is a surefire sign that they either don’t have the funds to pay bills, or they’re going through cognitive changes that limit their ability to live independently.
Increased Clutter and Grime in the Home: Everyone has a normal amount of clutter for their particular living space; but when your parent’s home becomes noticeably messier and dirtier than usual, it’s a sign that they’re no longer performing household chores. This may be due to declining vision and mobility, or it can also be an indicator of increased memory loss.
Memory Problems: Normal lapses in memory now and then happen for almost everyone, but if you notice it happening regularly, it may be time to seek extra care for them. Things such as your parent repeating themselves, regularly misplacing their keys or phone, struggling to recall basic information, or missing appointments are all signs of cognitive changes.
Unexplained Bruising or Injury: Aging brings a natural decrease in mobility and dexterity, but an increase in unexplained bruising, cuts, or other injuries are signs that they might have fallen or are having serious trouble getting around.
Lack of Fresh, Healthy Food in the Fridge: Nutrition is highly important as a person ages, but many elderly people find it difficult or impossible to get to the store, replenish their groceries, and prepare the meals they need to stay healthy. Check for rotting or spoiled food piling up in the fridge, as well as an increased reliance on pre-packaged or frozen meals.
Decrease in Social Activity: Has your parent seemed to have lost interest in cherished friendships or social activities? Check to see if they’re staying socially active: are they still attending their book club, visiting the Y for their aerobics class, or meeting their friends for coffee? Social isolation or lack of interest could be signs of serious cognitive or physical issues with your aging parent.
Unused Bed: Does your parent sleep in the living room on a recliner rather than in their bedroom? This may be because they aren’t able to get out of bed by themselves due to mobility problems. Check to see if they hold on to furniture when moving around the house.
This is not an exhaustive list of the signs to look out for, but it’s a good start. You know your parent better than anyone else, so you’re able to spot what is normal and what is out of the ordinary for them.
If you’re still not sure if they need extra help, reach out to Bluebird Homecare and we’d be happy to help you evaluate what your parent needs in order to continue leading a healthy, independent life.