When children are young, they rely on their parents for nurturing, comfort, sustenance, support, training, and so many other things. As parents grow older, it is children who sometimes need to take on the role of caregiver for their parents.
Physical and mental decline in older people happens at varying rates. A perfectly fit person can suddenly start losing their mental faculties. A mentally alert parent can experience a sudden or gradual physical decline. Every case is different, but at some stage in their lives, parents could require a higher level of support than they think they need.
Most parents don't want to be dependent on others. Helping your mother or father to cope with their changing situation requires a high level of tact and compassion so that the transition from totally independent to assisted living has a positive impact on their life. You want to leave them feeling supported, not controlled.
Those parents who choose to stay in their own home for as long as possible need somebody to constantly assess whether they are actually coping. Children living nearby are best suited to fulfill this role. But not every child lives close enough to their parents to be able to monitor day-to-day matters. If this is your situation, it is important to assign somebody who is in regular contact with your loved ones to do the monitoring for you. A relative is ideal, but it could be your parents' neighbor, or a close friend. In some cases, it might have to be a community worker.
Everyone who is involved with supporting parents who are elderly or who have special needs should be watchful so that their loved one can receive the level of help and home care that best fits their situation as soon as it is required.
Here are some warning signs to look for when a parent begins to experience a decline in their ability to cope with everyday issues.
Forgetfulness About Household Matters
A certain amount of forgetfulness is normal as a person ages. However, when mental ability declines to the point that it concerns safety or security, it becomes a serious issue that needs action to prevent tragedy. So what warning signs do you need to look for?
- Going out and leaving the house unlocked
- Losing keys and valuables
- Stoves and ovens not turned off
- Failure to place trash cans out for collection
- Newspapers lying uncollected on the front lawn
- Uncollected mail spilling out of the letter box
- Household chores not attended to
- The yard not kept tidy
- Inability to care for the needs of a pet
Lack Of Attention To Personal Care
Letting go of one's personal care can be a sign that help is needed. Look for any of the following examples as a hint that they could benefit from some assistance.
- Clothes not laundered as frequently as necessary
- Inability to match colors when dressing
- Dressing in inappropriate clothing for the time of day
- Failure to keep scheduled medical appointments
- Medication not being taken
- A refrigerator containing mostly contaminated and unusable food
- Weight loss due to illness or lack of proper dietary intake
Being a risk to themselves, and others is a very real concern. Have you noticed any of the following in your loved one?
- Driving ability likely to cause accidents
- Wandering around the neighborhood aimlessly
- Getting lost
- Forgetting where they live
Inability To Manage Personal Affairs
Paying attention to one's personal affairs is something we take for granted, but as we age, our memory generally isn't what it once was. Is your loved one experiencing any of the following?
- Bills that are unpaid
- Leaving cash lying around the home
- Losing money
- Not getting to the bank to obtain cash for necessary purchases
- Losing checkbooks and other documents
Decline In Desire To Socialize
Closing oneself in, is more common amongst seniors than one might think, and occurs for a variety of reasons.
- Not wanting to attend activities they have enjoyed for many years
- Lack of desire to visit or entertain friends
- Not traveling on holidays when this was a major activity
- Declining interest in previously loved hobbies
Everyone has the right to be independent for as long as they can manage their day-to-day lives. Some people defend their rights vehemently, and become defiant and stubborn when it comes to accepting help with life issues.
If some of these warning signs apply to your parents, it is time to consider organizing suitable home care for them so that they can retain some of their independence. The key to organizing suitable home care is communication with your loved ones. Explain that you are concerned about their health and assure them that home care help will allow them to remain relatively independent in their home for as long as possible.