It is unknown how many of our vulnerable elderly fall victim to neglect or abuse each year since such actions are easily hidden from view and underreported. In fact, according to the National Center for Elder Abuse (NCEA), 84 percent of abusive situations involving older adults go unreported or unrecognized.
Seven Signs Your Parent Needs Help
One of the hardest things to witness as an adult is the slowly deteriorating health of parents. Once strong, independent figures in one’s life, now requiring supervision and weekly doctor’s appointments. As parents get older, many adults have to make the difficult decision whether or not to put their mother or father in an assisted living center or nursing home.
Although bittersweet, many elders can significantly improve their quality of life by moving to an assisted living center. Round the clock care, social events with others, and their own space can all contribute to a longer, happier, and healthier life for someone in their last chapter of life.
Notice the Signs
Oftentimes, children of aging parents can overestimate the health and ability of their mother or father. It can be difficult to recognize the decline in parents’ mental and physical health and know when it’s time to take further actions. Although acknowledging these things can be hard, there are seven important signs to keep in mind when your parents are getting older and less independent.
The Seven “Deadly” Signs
Memory Loss or Forgetfulness
As parents age, their motor skills and mobility begin to decrease. Did your mom forget an important date like a birthday or holiday? Has your dad struggled with everyday tasks such as operating the television or turning on the radio? Although subtle decreases in memory are normal, recurring instances in which a parent forgets appointments, names, or dates can indicate early signs of Alzheimer’s or dementia.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), falls are the leading cause of ER visits in the US for people over 65. As mobility decreases, seniors are more at risk for falling due to declining balance and dangerous side effects from various prescriptions. Some ways to prevent falls include making adjustments to living spaces (removing rugs, installing bars in the bathtub), receiving regular check-ups for eyes and feet, and improving balance and strength by exercising regularly.
Isolation or Loss of Interest
Several studies have been conducted on feelings of loneliness and depression in elderly people. Results have shown that these feelings can sometimes indicate several conditions such as early dementia or Alzheimer’s disease. Pay attention to the activity levels of your parents- did they abandon their weekly exercise class? Have they seen their friends lately? Did they stop going to their weekly meetings? A sudden decrease in social or physical activities can indicate something deeper going on in your parents’ lives- pay attention and encourage them to continue their social lives.
Dramatic or Sudden Weight Loss
One of the most telling signs that a parent needs help is a dramatic fluctuation in their physical appearance, specifically their weight. Proper nutrition is one of the most important things for the elderly- they need a sufficient amount of vitamins and nutrients to fuel their bodies and remain in good health. If you notice sudden weight loss, pay attention to their eating habits and make sure they are remembering to eat multiple times per day. Many senior
Decline in Personal Hygiene
Similar to weight loss and proper nutrition, a noticeable decrease in personal hygiene can indicate the onset of dementia or Alzheimer’s. Things that could indicate hygiene issues include improper bathing, failure to wash clothing after soiled, and forgetting to brush teeth on a daily basis. Keep an eye out for the way your mother and father appear each time you see them- do they look clean and put together like usual or is something off about their appearance and cleanliness?
Financial planning for seniors can be one of the most important aspects of their lives. Planning for doctors appointments, medical bills, and normal utilities are an essential part of budgeting for the future and it’s important to make sure they’re staying on top of their finances. Pay attention to the quality of the decisions your mom or dad is making regarding their budget- does it make sense? Or are they showing signs of confusion or uncertainty? Offering financial assistance by hiring an outside source can be helpful in avoiding stress in both the child and parents lives.
Managing Healthcare Needs
Although declining health is a normal part of aging, parents can sometimes reach a point in which they need more help and supervision than a child can offer them in their own home. By admitting a parent into an assisted living facility, it ensures the senior is taking their medications, receiving proper nutrition, and monitors their overall health and wellness on a day-to-day basis. To find the best fit for a parent, visit multiple facilities and try to explain all the benefits of them transferring their lives there.
These seven “deadly” signs are just a few indicators to look out for when a parent is aging and may require additional help. If a senior is hesitant in accepting help or is unsure about next steps, the best thing to do is to talk to a medical professional who will encourage them in their next chapter. If an assisted living facility is the recommended next step, many centers offer trial periods in which the elderly person can try it out for a short period of time and see if it’s something they’re comfortable with long-term. To read more about nursing homes in Ohio, check out our interactive map and find the best fit for your family.