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10 Tell-tale Signs That Your Aging Parents Need Help

By: Clare Absher RN, BSN

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Were you surprised if not even appalled during a recent visit to your parent's home? Did you find the house in disarray, refrigerator empty, prescriptions unfilled, bills unpaid, clothes unwashed, or some obvious personal hygiene issues? We hear these overwhelming concerns and troubling reports from countless sons and daughters who unexpectedly discover their parents doing poorly. We listen to their accounts describing how their folks inexplicably and cleverly lured them in to believing that they were managing quite fine on their own. Consequently this unforeseen discovery to find your parents faring badly can cause a great deal of guilt and anxiety. Monitoring tell-tale signs that your parents need help will enable you to intervene timely and effectively. Do any of these signs sound familiar?

1. Not paying household bills on time or at all; Bills and important documents are not put away in appropriate places and left lying around

2. Not recognizing need for, arranging, or scheduling necessary household repairs and maintenance; Lawn not mowed, trash disposed of, and mail retrieved with any regularity

3. Driving safely becoming an issue such as increase in violations, accidents, easily becomes lost in familiar areas, and signs of deteriorating vision

4. Not preparing meals, eating at regular times, or missing them completely; Poor selection of food is often on hand or old outdated food left in refrigerator

5. Declining personal hygiene as indicated by unkempt hair, dirty or lengthy nails, poor oral hygiene, body or urine odor, unshaven, and wearing same clothes over and over

6. Lack of interest in keeping up with housekeeping chores like laundry or cleaning or simply complains that it is too difficult or tiring to continue doing them

7. Losing track of medications, missed doses, mistakes like overdosing or interactions resulting in health concerns if not hospitalizations

8. Reluctance to leave the house, run usual shopping errands, visit friends and family, sleeping long periods, and uninterested in usual hobbies or activities

9. Getting up and down stairs and in and out of home becoming difficult; Walking unsteady on level ground, complaining of dizziness, and falls are likely or have already occurred

10. Not making sound decisions that are likely to cause self harm or danger to others such as leaving the stove turned on or cigarettes burning and not recognizing an emergency or knowing the appropriate response