Nancy knew that her parents were not getting around as well as they used to. Her mother was becoming forgetful and needed to be reminded to take her medication. Her father had recently fallen on the steps. Whenever she suggested getting a home health aide to assist them since she lived far away, they insisted they were fine.
But when Nancy got a call from her parents' neighbor that their lawn hadn't been mowed in weeks and her mother was acting confused, she knew it was time to step in.
An older person's health can change without warning. Your 77-year-old dad who has never had a traffic ticket drives through a stop sign. Your highly organized mother neglects to pay the phone bill or feed the cat. Experts in elder care advise children of aging parents to trust their instincts when they see danger signs and take action before things gets worse.
Your parents may need your help if...
The prospect of losing your independence can be terrifying. Older adults may be proud and reject help despite needing it. Adult children may need to look beyond what their parents are saying ¿ and to clues that it's time to step in.
Signs that your parents might need help include:
- They are not taking medication as prescribed.
- Their driving skills have declined.
- They are neglecting bills or not depositing checks.
- They fall prey to a financial scam or high-pressure sale.
- Their clothes are not clean.
- They are not brushing their teeth or shaving.
- They have dropped their hobbies and friends.
- They are eating poorly.
- Their house and yard are not being tended to.
- They are not taking proper care of pets.
- They have limited contact with the outside world.
- They seem confused or depressed.
- They have lost bowel or bladder control.
- They have had frequent falls or trouble with stairs.
What to do?
If your parents appear to need help, make an appointment with a health care professional who is trained in evaluating the medical, emotional, and lifestyle needs of the elderly. This expert could be a doctor, home care nurse, or geriatric social worker.
A comprehensive assessment should cover your parents' mental and physical health, living space, and daily lifestyle. The goal is to identify risks and determine what assistance or preventive measures could improve your parents' quality of life. You may get guidance on home health care and home safety issues, as well as. strategies for managing incontinence, vision loss, medication adherence, or dementia.
Involve your parent in any decisions that need to be made. By addressing age-related problems early, there is a much greater chance that an older parent can continue to live independently for more years than would be possible otherwise.
Created on 05/29/2007
Updated on 05/19/2011
- National Family Caregivers Assn. Tips and guides.
- Canadian Mental Health Association. Aging parents.