5 Signs Your Aging Parents Need Help


Needing help doesn’t mean aging seniors should move into assisted living or a memory care center. It is often as simple as getting trustworthy and caring assistance from an outside party to support or execute the tasks seniors struggle with from day-to-day.

In some cases, this may mean hiring a driver who comes once or multiple times a week to transport seniors to their appointments, routine errands, and social engagements. Perhaps it involves having groceries delivered or easy-to-heat meals prepared once or twice a week. Companionship services are also helpful when seniors become more homebound.

How To Know When It’s Time To Get Help With Aging Parents Living At Home

Your attunement to key red flags or warning signs that aging parents need help allows you to enlist the support you need. This makes for happier, more engaged, active and independent seniors who can stay in their own homes far longer than they can otherwise.

Bonus: In addition to preventing more traumatic transitions into new living spaces and communities, bringing licensed and experienced care into the home typically saves seniors and their families thousands of dollars per year.

5 Signs You Should Seek Help With Aging Parents

1. Their Fridge & Cupboards Are Bare

Next time you visit your parents, do a little reconnaissance in the fridge and cupboards. Are they bare? Do they seem sparse? Do they contain more snacky, processed foods than fresh, whole foods? Is there spoiled, rotten or outdated food present? You may also notice signs of weight loss if this is the case.

Driving, shopping, unloading groceries, preparing food – all of these require high levels of mobility, strength, and stamina. As we get older and more tired or plagued by health conditions, these chores become more challenging.

Unfortunately, lack of regular, nutritious meals and snacks results in mental fogginess, dizzy or weak spells that can lead to falls, and eventually puts seniors at risk for malnourishment.

2. Their Living Spaces (And/Or Their Bodies) Are Unkempt

You may notice that the house is looking shabby or just plain messy and dirty. You may also note that their hair is unkempt, whiskers haven’t been shaved in days or weeks, unpleasant odors, dirty or stained clothing, etc.

Lack of hygiene – both around the house as well as for themselves – is another red flag that cannot go ignored.

In some cases, you may find that dementia or memory issues are the cause. However, loneliness, depression or a lack of energy (hungry, poor sleep habits, undiagnosed or untreated latent medical issues) can also cause seniors to “let things go,” in a way they never would have before.

3. The Car Looks Dinged Up Or They Were At Fault In A Recent Car Accident

Giving up the keys is a major sacrifice and a reverse right-of-passage for seniors. Driving equals independence for many Americans, and having to give that up can shake a senior’s sense of self and independence.

That being said, it’s essential that seniors hand over the keys when they’re no longer safe to drive; it protects their wellbeing, as well as the safety and wellbeing of others.

Read, Safety Behind the Wheel for more information about speaking to your loved ones about driving concerns. The article also has helpful resources for assessing whether or not a senior should be driving, or if they simply need certain modifications (perhaps an updated eye exam, prescription lenses that are better for preventing glare at night, or a restricted license that prohibits them from driving after sunset).

If it is time to turn in the keys, work with a local senior center to learn more about senior-specific public transportation in your area. Licensed home care agencies also offer driving services, and going this route can help to acclimate your aging parents to bringing assistance into their world – making it easier to add other homecare services on as needed.

4. Difficulty Standing From A Sitting Position, Diminished Mobility Or Unexplained Bruises Or Injuries

If mobility becomes a challenge it needs to be addressed.

This is a good time to schedule a doctor’s appointment with the general physician (GP) (try to accompany them if you can OR send an email to their GP explaining your concerns ahead of time). If you can’t be present, speak to your parent(s) about gaining permission to communicate with their doctor and vice versa, so you can be part of the conversation.

If it is purely a lack of strength or reduced balance/motility – mobility aids are the first line of defense, including the right walker or scooter and a cane to help them navigate their home and the outside world more safely.

We also recommend reading our post on Easy Home Modifications to keep your aging parent’s home safer and more accessible, and eliminating typical trip/fall hazards.

5. Signs Of Forgetfulness That Seem More Than Age-Related

All of us get more forgetful as we age, but Alzheimer’s and dementia bring a different level of forgetfulness to the table.

Signs your parent’s forgetfulness is more than age-related include:

  • Forgetting important appointments, social engagements, immediate family members birthdays, etc. more frequently
  • Bills left unpaid
  • Forgetting to take medication
  • The inability to follow recipes, including familiar ones
  • Wandering the neighborhood aimlessly
  • Getting lost on familiar routes or unable to find their way home from church, grocery store, bank, hair salon, etc.
  • Difficulty remembering recent events
  • Reduced ability to concentrate
  • Increased confusion
  • Unusual agitation, depression, anger or mood swings

If memory issues are a concern, work with a licensed home care agency that offers live-in care services too, preparing for a smoother transition if/when 24-hour care is required.

Seeking Help For The Elderly Living At Home

Are you on the fence about whether or not your aging parents need more support or help to live safely in their home? Are you sure they need help but not sure at what level – or how to bring it up?

Schedule in-home consultations with local, licensed home care agencies in your area. These visits are no-obligation but provide a wealth of insight and recommendations, customized to your concerns. Most importantly, they help you understand if and when is the time to seek help with aging parents living at home.

Check out these other resources for help with aging parents:

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