When Karen visited her parents over the holidays, she discovered nothing but frozen pizzas and ice cream in their refrigerator.
Her mother had always been the one to shop and keep the home, but as the years passed she became less and less able to do so. Karen’s dad would run to the store for a few things, leaving her mother alone while he was gone. It wasn’t by choice of course, her aging parents just had no one to turn to for help.
It had been a gradual thing, but the reality of it suddenly hit Karen full force. Her parents needed some extra help.
It’s hard for us to admit that our parents are getting older. It can make us deeply sad to admit to ourselves that the parents who have always cared for us now need care from us. Sometimes it’s just easier to live in denial. Not only do adult children want to pretend everything’s ok, so do parents. They don’t want to feel like they are a burden; don’t want to admit that they need care.
Your individual story may be different, but again and again the same basic questions is being asked: “How will I know when it’s time to get help for my aging parents?”
5 Things to Look For to Determine if Your Aging Parents Need Care:
Before we get started, let’s qualify this discussion. Just because we may notice some of these issues, it doesn’t mean we have to rush to judgment. What is important is to be aware and to talk about your concerns and your parent’s needs.
- Living Conditions – Do you notice a change in the cleanliness of your parents’ home?
- Self-Care – Has there been a marked change in their personal hygiene?
- Nutrition – The lack of nutritious food can be a sign, as it was with Karen. Notice significant weight loss, dry cracking skin, and significant lack of food or spoiled food in the home?
- Mental Ability – Are your parents able to hold up their end of a conversation, or do they tell the same stories over and over again? Do they mentally wander off mid-sentence?
- Physical Ability – Difficulty with balance or the ability to move about can be a sign help is needed to accomplish daily living activities and prevent falls.
If you want to learn more about what to look for, check out Haley Gray’s article, How Can I Tell If Mom Needs Help? At its heart, this is a subjective decision. Activities of Daily Living Checklist is a form that can make the process a little more objective. It lists different everyday activities and has you mark your parent’s ability to do each on a scale. Adult children can use it to help them understand their parent’s need for care. It can also be a good tool for both parent and child to work on together.