10 Early Warning Signs Your Parents May Need Home Care

10 Early Warning Signs Your Parents May Need Home Care

What are the 10 early warning signs that someone should not be left alone. How can you determine if your family member needs home care services or companionship to deal with a senior’s isolation. Depending on your cultural background a conversation on home care can be very difficult. Many cultures expect the children to provide care to their ageing parents, but times are changing!

With the break down of the extended family and with high levels of mobility, we may neither have the resources (large and extended family) or the proximity to easily care for our parents. It’s tough I know.

What have I learnt? Have the conversation early, insist no matter how much it hurts!

My father and I cried many times over this conversation (Mom had Alzheimers), argued until we were blue in the face. One time, I was actually thrown out of the house and told to leave them alone. I did, and this was wrong!

So here are the 10 signs:

1. Looking a little thin lately:

Losing weight is a natural part of ageing but we need to be careful that the weight lose is not unintentional. If we notice mom getting thinner, we should ask her why she is eating less; is she becoming forgetful, or is eating becoming too much effort? If they are not sure, we need to encourage them to speak with their family doctor, and help them to explore and discuss the reasons why they are not eating as much.

2. Beginning to notice a change in basic hygiene:

A change in appearance such as dirty hair or body odour are obvious signs that someone isn’t bathing regularly and warrant a closer look. It can be signs of arthritis or general muscle weakness that is making it difficult for an older person to shampoo hair or shower easily. Our personal hygiene is important to our health, our self-esteem, and our acceptance by society when in social groups. Regardless of the cause, this requires a closer look.

3. Issues with Dressing:

Maybe Dad mis-buttoned his sweater for the umpteenth time. Perhaps Mom has been wearing the same skirt for three days in a row. If your parents begin to look unkempt, its time to look closer at their ability to dress themselves.

4. Problems with Mobility: – red flag

Is mom having trouble swinging her legs out of bed and standing up? If yes, that’s a mobility problem. Mobility refers to the ability to transfer your body from one object or position to another. For some, the first sign of trouble transferring occurs when they find themselves unable to get up off the toilet. Problems with transferring can lead to a fall, so closely monitor the situation and intervene before a catastrophe occurs.

5. Frequent Falls: –huge danger

Falls can be caused by many things, from a simple stumble to an ear infection. And since we all fall from time to time, a one-time fall may not be cause for vigilance. However, if your parent experiences several falls in succession, its time to investigate further.

6. House looking untidy:

We’re not talking about a little dust on the TV. We’re talking about clear signs the house isn’t being cleaned regularly: dirty bathrooms, dirty dishes always piled up in the sink, trash not being taken to the curb. Any noticeable but significant changes in how your parent typically tends to household chores are clear signs that help around the home is needed. Not only to give them a break, but to maintain the house and keep it free of obstructions.

7. Personality Changes:

Mom’s bubbly self becoming sullen most of the time; or dad’s normally reserved behaviour turning into a party animal. The changes in behaviour and loss of inhibition can signal impending memory problems. You should discuss the change with your family doctor and determine if testing for a decline in your parent’s cognitive modality is appropriate.

8. Patterns of Forgetfulness & Lapses in Home Safety:

The key is to look for patterns of forgetfulness with your parents. Does dad leave the fire unattended while taking a trip to the grocery store, does he forget his keys even though you’ve reminded him a dozen times? Does Mom not want to drive the new car because she cannot get used to it? Each of these examples points not only to forgetfulness, but to an inability to live safely without supervision. Serious safety lapses clearly require immediate intervention.

9. Repeating Things in Conversation:

Again, we all do this from time to time. In a person with memory issues, repeating things in conversation will happen frequently and often without the person realizing they already said something once (or more). If your parent often repeats the same news multiple times without acknowledging it, you should seek medical attention for him or her

10. Forgetting to Take Medications:

This could be a sign of memory issues, or it may simply signal that your parent feels overwhelmed by his or her medication schedule. Try to find out what’s going on so you can help.

Would we ever leave our children alone when they are mad at us and say go away. No. An no matter how hard it is, we can not turn our backs on our parents. They are probably frightened and alarmed at the lose of their abilities, and do not want to become a burden to their family, nor do they want to display weakness.

So change the conversation! It’s not about getting care, its about exercising their choice to continue to live in their home and getting the services they want to help them age well, to age safe, and to continue enjoying life. Ageing independently needs a support structure of home care services and social engagement to avoid depressions and accidents.

What can Parents do?

  • Be receptive to the conversation and open to the idea of receiving in home care. Accepting help from a Care Provider is a sign of strength and determination to age well. Work with their children to design and manage a care plan that evolves, as their needs evolve.

And finally. It’s not necessary for families to up root themselves. There’s a continuum of home services that are available to keep you active in your home and community. Giving you more choice, flexibility, and freedom to meet your lifestyle needs

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