Your aging parent may be starting to show changes in their habits or their abilities to perform daily tasks, and you may not understand what to make of it, but it’s important to know that you’re not alone.
Aging is a natural part of life, but some adults require extra assistance in order to safely enjoy their golden years from the comfort of their homes. Now that you’ve taken notice of the shifts in their behaviors, you should keep an eye on them to know whether they’re worsening and whether any new symptoms appear.
With that said, below are a few of the most common signs of aging that could mean your parent may benefit from in-home care:
1. Forgetfulness and Confusion
Forgetting to call someone back or misplacing your car keys is normal when it happens once in a while, but if your parent is responding with “I can’t remember” more often than usual, that may be cause for concern, especially if they forget important things, like bill payments or doctor’s appointments.
In addition, forgetfulness can go hand in hand with confusion. Perhaps your family member did not just forget to pay their water bill but also forgot how to do it despite having done so for years prior.
Both confusion and forgetfulness are signs of normal aging, but in excess, they could indicate that a seizure has taken place or that conditions like dementia or Alzheimer’s are beginning to develop.
2. Changes in Eating Habits
There are a few ways to notice changes in your loved one’s eating habits. If you spend a lot of time with them, you might notice that they no longer make the effort to cook healthy meals and rely on microwaved foods or takeout. Perhaps they are showing disinterest in the foods they used to love, or maybe their weight has significantly shifted in a short period.
Sudden differences in eating habits can be serious for seniors, especially if they are losing a lot of weight and not getting the nourishment they need. Lack of adequate nutrition can contribute to many health issues, especially for older adults, and if it continues at a regular pace, it could be a sign that they need some extra support in their home.
3. Reduced Mobility
If you notice your parent struggling to get up from chairs, failing to move around the way they used to, or neglecting the physical activities they used to enjoy, their mobility and energy levels might be on the decline.
Although older adults can maintain their mobility and even increase it with certain stretches and exercises, mobility generally decreases with age. That said, depending on how rapidly your loved one’s strength and energy are weakening, it may become clear that they need help performing everyday tasks in their home.
4. Unexplainable Injuries
Bruises and cuts that your loved one can’t or won’t explain are never a good sign, as they often mean that your family member has fallen and hurt themselves and either doesn’t want to worry you or can’t remember that it happened. These signs of injury — combined with reduced mobility — could mean that living alone without support might be unsafe for your parent.
5. An Unkempt House or Yard
For aging adults, upkeep that was once simple and second nature around their home can become tiresome and almost impossible, and if your parent is already struggling with memory issues or confusion, they may forget to do the tasks they used to do regularly to keep their home and yard clean. Things like increased clutter, layers of dust on furniture, and overgrown greenery in the yard could indicate that your parent needs some help keeping their home clean and safe.
6. Unusual Mood Changes
Extreme mood changes (such as acting more distant, being easily irritated, or becoming generally apathetic) can be early indicators of dementia. Though the progress of the condition can be slowed with certain lifestyle changes — increasing exercise, eating a healthy diet, learning new skills — dementia cannot be completely reversed or stopped. That said, if your parent is showing these signs now, it’s best to get them the help they need sooner instead of later.
7. Poor Hygiene
Overlooking basic hygienic tasks like bathing and brushing teeth can be another sign of aging or dementia, similar to home and yard neglect. If your parent is having trouble moving around the way they used to, they might not be able to take care of themselves as easily, so in-home support may be the most sensible solution.
8. Failing to Take Medications
Taking medications on time is essential for everyone, but it is especially so for older adults with various health issues to treat. If your parent is forgetting or refusing to take their medication, they may face serious health consequences in both the short and long term.
9. Unexplained Car Damage
If your parent is having trouble driving as carefully as they used to or consistently deferring maintenance, it may be unsafe for them to continue to drive. If they are a safe driver but can’t remember to pay their bills or take their car in for regular maintenance, an in-home caretaker could assist with those tasks.
10. Less Interest in Activities
A lack of interest in the activities your parent used to enjoy is an important change to take note of. While it may be derived from the difficulties of adjusting to post-retirement life, it — like other mood-based changes — could also be signaling the development of a condition like dementia. Talk to your parent about how they’ve been feeling and what kind of support they need.
Support for Aging Parents: Approach the Topic With Care
If your parent is showing any of the above symptoms, it’s important to remember that, while concerning, they are very common. Just ensure you take note of any changes you notice and gently approach these topics with your loved one. If you think in-home care is necessary, make sure you choose a provider that meets all of your parent’s unique needs and makes them feel safe as they age in place.
If you or your family member is considering in-home care as part of a plan to age in place, contact Family Matters In-Home Care today for a free consultation. Our team is dedicated to supporting your family and helping older adults enjoy life in the comfort of their own home for as long as possible.
Some of the services offered by Family Matter In-Home Care include: Alzheimer’s & Dementia Care, Bed & Wheelchair Transfer Assistance, Companionship, Housekeeping & Meal Preparation, Personal Care, Recovery Care, and Transportation.