Though a parent’s love might last, their ability to live independently will not.
Harvard Medical School reports that about two-thirds of Americans ages 65 and up need assistance with at least some activities of daily living. For many people, seeing a parent as anything other than a source of strength and support is challenging. Therefore, certain signs of trouble may go unnoticed or ignored for too long.
If you think your parent or parents may need extra care, look for the following signs:
Changes in mood
Are your parents not as cheerful as usual? The occasional blues can happen to anyone, regardless of age or condition. But a prolonged feeling of sadness or hopelessness could be a sign of a mood disorder or other underlying condition.
Changes in weight
Maybe your aging parent is looking thinner than usual. This could be a sign of malnutrition or other health issue that can affect your parent’s sense of taste and smell, or their ability to prepare food. If weight loss is evident, pay close attention to their cooking and eating habits.
If your parent has difficulty walking certain distances or climbing stairs, or their performance behind the wheel is shaky, they may be experiencing reduced mobility associated with aging or age-related conditions.
Loss of memory
We all forget things occasionally, and this can become more common as we age. But when memory lapses prevent one from performing daily tasks, there may be a more serious cause, such as Alzheimer’s disease or other types of dementia. If your parent is forgetting more than just keys, glasses or names of movie actors, extra care may be necessary.
Other cues, such as poor home maintenance, inadequate personal grooming and hygiene and poor organization, may also signal a need for further attention and care.
If you see these signs in your parent or loved one, sit down with them and voice your concerns. Address observed safety issues and encourage them to seek routine medical checkups. You and your parent can consult a physician to learn different avenues of care. Even if your parent is functioning well, the National Institutes of Health recommends developing a care plan for the future.
If needed, research home health services in the area that can offer the support of a home nurse or aide. You can also seek counsel from the National Council on Aging. Visit ncoa.org for helpful tips and information regarding services and programs near you.
Aging can be challenging for both parent and child. But with awareness, patience, and cooperation, the cycle of life and aging can continue with greater longevity and happiness.