As families around the country gather for the holidays, adult children with elderly parents should make it a point to keep an eye out for any potential warning signs that could show that your parents need more help. All of us lose abilities as we age, and when elderly parents begin showing signs that their age is affecting them, adult children need to be prepared to step in and offer the needed help. If you are visiting with your parents this holiday season, here are several things you will want to look out for.
Parents and Home Care
Some aging parents are unable to perform the regular and necessary home maintenance tasks. In many situations, elderly people have difficulty remembering to perform household chores, or are simply no longer able to do them properly. Some of the warning signs that your parents are in need of help in this area include:
- Unrefrigerated or spoiled food.
- Lack of personal hygiene.
- Strong home odors.
- Confusion when performing daily tasks.
- Weight loss.
- Marked increase in the amount of home clutter.
Parents and Financial Responsibilities
Aging parents are also prone to falling behind on their financial responsibilities. Sometimes, for example, elderly people can easily forget to pay bills on time. When you visit with your parents, keep an eye out for stacks of unopened mail. You might also want to see if there are any notices for past due payments or letters from creditors that could indicate your parents aren’t keeping up with bills.
Parents and Declines in Cognitive Abilities
Everyone experiences some kind of cognitive decline as they age. In most situations, the occasional bouts of forgetfulness or the inability to remember details are relatively benign. Lapses in memory are common even in the young, and when they occur in the elderly, they’re usually not a sign of a medical condition such as dementia or Alzheimer’s. However, you can learn to identify the difference between common memory lapses and significant memory problems that could indicate a problem. Be on the lookout for:
- Disruptive lapses. Forgetting recently learned information or repeatedly asking for the same information.
- Problem solving difficulty. Not being able to keep track of regular bills, follow a familiar recipe, or an inability to concentrate.
- Confusion. Not knowing how they came to be in a place, not realizing that something is going on right now, or losing track of seasons or the general passage of time.
Getting the Appropriate Help
If you think your elderly parents need more help than they’re getting, you can contact us to discuss what options you have. Sometimes, an occasional visit from friends or relatives will be enough, while other situations may require long-term care.