It’s never easy to watch a loved one experience a decline in the ability to care for themselves or to maintain their normal activities of daily living. To complicate matters, you may not know when additional help or intervention is necessary, as aging parents often express a desire to remain independent and may try to convince you they are fine.
Taking an honest assessment of your parent’s surroundings and behavior changes will help you decide when to discuss in-home care for your parent. Here are some signs to look for.
Decline in Personal Hygiene
One of the first signs of physical or mental decline in a parent may be the failure to keep up with personal hygiene tasks, such as bathing, brushing teeth, and grooming hair. The signs may be subtle at first and become more profound later. You may also smell strong body odors or notice dirty hands and fingernails.
Slips in personal hygiene may be a result of physical limitations that make it difficult or painful for your parent to perform these activities of daily living. Poor personal hygiene can also coincide with episodes of depression or other mental health issues.
Decline in Household Upkeep
If your parent was always a meticulous housekeeper and you suddenly notice unwashed dishes in the sink or left on the counter or table, it may be a sign something is amiss. You may notice dust is accumulating and you may notice spills on the floor that haven’t been cleaned up.
Laundry may be undone and you may find food items left out on the counter or table that should have been refrigerated. You may find your parent is cooking less and relying on snack foods instead of fixing regular meals. A significant change in household upkeep may signal that your parent needs more support.
Decline in Social Life
If your parent was active and enjoyed being with other people, finding out they rarely leave the house should be a red flag. You may find your parent cancelling plans or making excuses for not going out when invited to dinner or to family events. Lack of a social life can lead to isolation and loneliness, which can trigger further decline in emotional health.
Decline in Physical or Mental Health
Parents commonly blame their physical and mental health issues on the natural aging process. While growing older does come with some normal changes, you need to be alert to problems that make your parent less safe. If you notice bruises on your parent on a regular basis, they may be experiencing problems with balance and gait or having bouts of dizziness that cause falls.
Forgetfulness that becomes consistent needs to be addressed, too, and it is especially concerning when medications need to be taken regularly to control health issues. Forgetfulness can lead to under or overdosing on medications. If your parent is on prescription medications but still struggling to keep health issues under control, it may be a sign they are confused about when to take their medications or are forgetting to take them.
Decline in Interest in Hobbies
Loss of interest in hobbies may be a distress signal for your loved one. If your parent loved gardening or working on puzzles or another activity, and they suddenly lose interest in it, you should be concerned. Forgetting how to play a musical instrument or how to perform a specific hobby they once enjoyed is also a sign something may be wrong.
Approaching the subject of in-home care with an aging parent isn’t easy, especially if your parent is determined they don’t need help. However, being mindful of the signs your parent may need assistance with personal and home care shows you care and want what’s best for them. Contact Home Helpers in Dallas to discuss options regarding the best in-home care for your loved one.