What Are the Signs Your Aging Parents Need Help?

August 17, 2023
Peter NeCastro
As our parents grow older, it's crucial to be attentive to signs that they might require assistance due to the natural decline in physical and cognitive abilities that comes with age. Recognizing these changes and offering support is essential. 

While discussions about caring for aging parents can be emotionally challenging, proactive planning is vital. Addressing their future care needs before they become urgent is key. This article delves into the indicators that signify the appropriate moment to begin taking care of elderly parents. We’ve also created an assessment checklist for you to download so you can make your own informed decisions.

Top 10 Signs Your Elderly Parent Needs Help

We’ll dive into each of these signs to help you identify when assistance is needed for your aging loved one:
  1. Unkempt Living Space
  2. Weight Loss or Poor Nutrition
  3. Neglected Personal Hygiene
  4. Medication Mismanagement
  5. Physical Changes
  6. Decreased Mobility
  7. Forgetfulness and Confusion
  8. Unexplained Mood Changes
  9. Isolation and Withdrawal
  10. Unpaid Bills and Financial Confusion

Difficulty with Activities of Daily Living (ADLs)

Recognizing the need for assistance in caring for elderly parents often begins with observing challenges in activities of daily living, such as bathing, grooming, and dressing. When these tasks become difficult, it's a signal to explore support options. 

Increased dependence on others, noticeable through struggles with tasks like grocery shopping, driving, and financial management, can also signify the need for additional care. Has your neat-freak parent's home suddenly become messy and cluttered? A messy living space might be a sign that they're having difficulties maintaining it. It could be due to physical limitations or memory issues.

A change in circumstances, like an illness or injury, may amplify this dependence. If your parents encounter difficulties in tasks like meal preparation or shopping, consider private duty in-home care with the aid of a caregiver who can help them maintain their independence and well-being, while offering companionship to brighten their day.

Reduced Eating Habits

Changes in eating habits can also be a sign that your elderly parents may need assistance. If they are skipping meals or not eating enough, this can be a cause for concern. 

Significant weight loss or signs of poor nutrition can be indicative of their inability to shop for groceries or prepare meals. Nutritional deficiencies can worsen health conditions, so it's essential to address this promptly.

Consider helping with meal preparation or arranging for meal delivery services, such as Unrefined, who delivers prepared food within 30 miles of downtown Cleveland.

Decline in Personal Hygiene

A decrease in self-care regarding hygiene can also be a sign that your elderly parents need additional support. If you notice that your parents are not bathing regularly or are not keeping their living space clean, it may be time to consider getting them some help. This could mean hiring an in-home health aide to assist with personal care or arranging for a cleaning service to come in periodically.

Medication Management Issues

As parents age, managing multiple medications becomes important for their health. Managing medications can become complex as multiple prescriptions pile up. Struggles like forgetting doses or mis-timing medication intake may indicate the need for assistance. Utilizing a pill dispenser and setting regular reminder alerts can aid in medication management. 

Chronic health conditions such as diabetes or heart disease warrant additional care, especially for medication supervision and symptom monitoring. Post-surgery or hospitalization periods also require increased support during recovery, making home care an effective option for proper medication adherence and symptom observation. Depending on the severity, employing a private duty nurse may be beneficial for the best recovery and care.


Decline in Mobility and Cognitive Abilities

Suffering from Mobility Issues

Mobility challenges are another prevalent indicator that your elderly parents might require support. Should you observe them struggling with walking, rising from chairs, or experiencing frequent falls, it's crucial to consider assistance. This could involve installing grab bars or arranging physical therapy to enhance their strength and balance while addressing the potential dangers of falls. 

Falls in the home can have serious consequences for elderly parents, potentially leading to fractures, head injuries, and reduced mobility. Beyond physical harm, falls can also erode their confidence and independence, impacting their overall quality of life and well-being.

Experiencing Forgetfulness or Confusion

Occasional forgetfulness or confusion is expected. Yet, consistent forgetfulness of crucial matters like appointments or medications, along with heightened confusion, signals a potential need for assistance. This might involve periodic check-ins by a caregiver or exploring memory care facilities for diagnosed dementia cases. 

A shift in your parent's mood, such as increased irritability, sadness, or anxiety, could be linked to the challenges they're facing. The frustration of dealing with health issues, loss of independence, or social isolation might manifest as emotional changes.

Cognitive decline, characterized by memory loss, confusion, or depression, can also trigger the need for home care. Addressing these changes entails engaging a caregiver who can offer companionship and stimulating activities to help sustain cognitive abilities. Companion care services can provide stimulating and enjoyable breaks in your parents day.

Social Isolation

As they age, it is common for seniors to experience a disengagement. Diminished social networks and challenges in leaving the house contribute to social isolation. Has your sociable parent become increasingly isolated, skipping social events and avoiding friends?

Recognizing signs of increased solitude or loneliness is important, prompting the consideration of assistance. This might involve arranging companionship through a caregiver or motivating them to partake in community-based social activities. 

The issue of social isolation is widespread among aging individuals, resulting in reduced interactions and potential feelings of loneliness and despondency. If you observe your parents spending more time alone or withdrawing from once-enjoyed activities, exploring avenues to maintain their social engagement becomes essential.

This could encompass discovering local senior centers or volunteer opportunities, or encouraging them to stay connected with loved ones through technology. The City of Cleveland Department of Aging has a list of volunteer opportunities for seniors ages 55 and up.

Experiencing Financial and Family Strain

Floundering with Financial Issues

If you observe your elderly parents struggling to handle their finances, such as missing bill payments or making checkbook mistakes, it might be wise to provide them with assistance. This could involve enlisting a financial advisor to guide their financial management or coordinating caregiver support for bill payment. 

Moreover, the responsibility of caring for aging parents can create a considerable financial strain on families. If your parents are facing financial challenges, it's essential to explore avenues to help them manage their finances. This may encompass strategies like downsizing their residence, mortgage refinancing, or finding ways to trim expenses. Additionally, assessing government assistance programs and other financial resources can be vital to alleviating the financial impact of care.

Upheaving Family Dynamics

Family dynamics play a crucial role in determining the right time to care for aging parents. For only children, the responsibility might solely rest on their shoulders, while involving other family members demands considering their needs and viewpoints. Honest discussions about the best caregiving approach may become necessary. 

Recognizing signs of caregiver burnout is vital for those responsible for their parents' care. The all-encompassing nature of caregiving can lead to overwhelming stress. Seeking help from other caregivers, such as an in-home healthcare aid, can offer respite, allowing them to prioritize their well-being.

Additionally, personal circumstances such as distance from parents or demanding jobs should be weighed when deciding on home care, ensuring parents receive necessary care while alleviating concerns for your peace of mind. In some situations, 24-hour care for elderly parents becomes necessary.

When to Initiate the Conversation

In conclusion, the decision to initiate care for aging parents demands careful consideration of multiple factors. Evaluating shifts in their physical and mental health, heightened dependence, potential social isolation, financial implications, family dynamics, and proactive planning all contribute to making an informed choice. 

While contemplating our parents' aging and forthcoming care needs can be challenging, proactive planning ensures their dignified and graceful aging. Compassion and empathy should guide these discussions, involving all family members to achieve optimal outcomes and to avoid hurt feelings or parents refusing help

Once the decision to pursue home care is made, the subsequent step involves selecting the most suitable type of care. Options like hiring private caregivers, engaging home care agencies, or seeking assistance from family and friends each possess merits and drawbacks, requiring thorough research for informed decision-making.

As a care manager, I gently share my observations and concerns about the well-being and safety of older adults. I am great at highlighting specific instances that indicate the need for additional support, and I’d like to partner with you to help your family figure out if your parents need additional assistance at home. Call me at (440) 613-1500 or contact our office to schedule a free consultation.