Knowing when your parent needs help with day-to-day life is a difficult task. This is the person who raised you, who you went to for help, in many ways you might not even see that they need help. If you live close and see your parent often the decline is so gradual that you don’t notice if you are not looking. If you live far away you never see the little things happening. Then, suddenly, something big happens. Car accident, stove left on, accidental overdose of medicines, the list is long and scary. When something big happens you know that it is time for help and hopefully it is not too late. Be on the alert for warning signs and act early, do not just wait for something big.
- Your parent is more forgetful to the point of missing appointments or forgetting things you know they know. Loosing track of details is an early symptom of dementia. Be alert for changes in cognition. These early signs may mean your parent needs help keeping track of medications and appointments and maybe someone checking in on other household things daily.
- Unexplained body bruises or scratches on the car. These little things may be indicators of a loss of dexterity or reaction time, or, declining vision. Catching this early can prevent a worse accident and depending on what is causing the issue may be curable. If the condition is permanent help driving and doing the heavy house work should save trouble down the line.
- Unkempt appearance or smell, or, very messy house. You know what normal is for your parent. When keeping up with personal care or home care starts to slip below what is normal for them look into the reasons why. There might be dexterity or strength issues or even depression but letting it go too long can lead to health problems and hazardous living conditions. Someone to help clean the house or do laundry is a very easy to find. Some to help with personal care is harder for an independent senior to accept but tell them how important their health and happiness are to you and it should help.
- Moving slowly or using things for balance. Mobility assistance may be needed if strength and balance become an issue. If ignored too long a fall is inevitable. Working with a doctor on why there are balance issues is a first step but to keep things safe look into safety upgrades for the house and a walker, cane or wheelchair depending on severity. A walker is not that fun but it is better than a month in the hospital with a broken hip.