As you plan a holiday visit to see your aging parent or parents, you might want to be on the lookout for any signs they are having difficulties living on their own. While it can be hard to accept older loved ones aging, it’s important to be able to determine if all that’s needed is an occasional helping hand, a visit to the family doctor or a change of address.
Warning signs to look for in an aging parent and what they might mean
As webmd.com reminds us, normal aging brings changes to just about everyone. The heart works a little harder. Your skin feels drier. Vision changes. Bones become less dense and more brittle. But while change is evitable, sometimes there are signs of more complex issues that should be addressed in order to remain safe and independent.
Here are some examples of what you might observe when visiting an aging parent and what it might mean:
- Your aging parent seems confused about your visit. If you arrive at your parents’ home and they seem to not have expected you, find out why. Did they write it down wrong on the calendar, or are they unaware it’s the holiday season? Try to determine if it’s a case of simple forgetfulness, or if it seems to be part of a pattern of memory loss.
- They are not steady on their feet. If you usually go on walks with Dad or accompany Mom on shopping trips, and now they seem uninterested, it could be a problem with mobility. They might be avoiding getting out on their own and would benefit from seeing a physician to determine if it’s a balance issue, problems due to a medication or another cause.
- Sadness and lack of interest. Depression can be the result of many things, from lack of physical activity to sleep problems to isolation to cancer. If your parent seems depressed, suggest a trip to the doctor for a checkup. Remember that isolation can lead to depression, as well as several other serious physical, mental and emotional health issues.
- There’s been a sudden weight change. Maintaining proper nutrition is so important for an older adult, yet it can be increasingly difficult as one ages. Getting to the store, preparing foods, remembering to eat, making good choices—do a quick inspection of your aging parent’s eating habits and ask them how they feel about it. The culprit could be as simple as adjusting medications to prevent loss of appetite, addressing teeth or gum issues, or simple boredom due to eating alone.
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- Bruises or other signs of a fall. Being off balance and stumbling can lead to falls, and falls are a major cause of concern. The National Council on Aging reports that one in four Americans age 65 and older falls each year, and falls are the leading cause of fatal and nonfatal injuries among older adults. Some ways to help prevent falls include certain exercises, making the home safer, making sure there is not a vision problem, and monitoring medications. Falling is not a normal part of aging.
- New dents in the car or garage. Everyone has a fender bender now and then, but if you notice on a holiday visit that there’s new damage to your aging parent’s car, ask them what happened. Issues with driving could suggest changes in vision, slower reflexes or confusion. Ask if they feel safe driving to the bank, grocery store or their physician. They might be reluctant to respond, fearing they will lose their independence; be sure to let them know you are only concerned about their wellbeing.
If you’ve seen these signs, it might be time to discuss a new lifestyle
It’s quite possible your aging parent is aware they could use a helping hand, or benefit from a whole new change of scene. As you listen to their thoughts, be sure to let them know how much you care about their happiness and safety, and that you will help them every step of the way.
It could be an ideal time to bring up the advantages of living in a setting where they no longer have to worry about home maintenance, cooking, transportation or managing medications on their own. We are here to help.
Senior living, the LSS Senior Living way
At LSS Senior Living, our goal is to offer seniors quality care and comfort in a friendly and warm environment that feels like home. We offer a continuum of services to lend a helping hand when you need them. Find out more about our communities: