It is so important to make time to check in on our aging parents to see how they are doing. Visiting should always be fun. It can also be a time to assess how they are managing their day to day lives. You may even need to be a little bit of a detective to discover signs of potential trouble.
1. Check The Physical Health Of Your Aging Parents
One of the best ways to check your aging parents physical health is with a hug! A simple hug can tell you a lot about any significant weight gain or loss.
You can also access their frailty by the strength and stature of their hug.
In addition, pay attention to their movements. Notice if they are shuffling their feet when walking. Do they have trouble getting up from a seated position? These can all be signs of weakening mobility.
2. Be Nosy
Do your aging parents a favor and go to the mailbox for them. Take a peek at their mail and pay close attention for unopened bills. This can be a sign that they are having trouble managing their finances.
Also check for any official mail from banks or creditors that would indicate a problem with their money management.
Lastly, make sure they are not being scammed by “fake” charities. Scammers prey on the elderly. Don’t let it be your loved ones.
3. Go For A Drive With Your Aging Parents At The Wheel
Taking a quick trip to the store will give you a chance to assess your aging parents driving skills. Pay specific attention to their response time, tailgating and driving to slow. These can be signs of decreased ability to safely operate the car.
Oh yeah…..take a look around the car for dents and scratches. These are tell tale signs of careless driving. For more detailed information click here for Caring.com’s article on “Seniors and Driving”.
4. Inspect The Kitchen And Living Areas
You want to make sure that your aging parents are managing their homelife well. Buying groceries and cleaning the home can be huge tasks. Notice of they are buying multiples of the same items. This may indicate a memory issue.
In the kitchen, look for any signs of a small fire such as burnt potholders or scorched pots. This would indicate growing forgetfulness and impending danger.
Clutter and uncleanliness in the bathroom and living areas indicate possible physical limitations and an inability to manage the house alone.
5. Pets & Plants
Make sure that the other living things in the home are being well cared for. If your aging parent always had a green thumb, but all of the house plants are dying, then their desire and ability to care for them has changed.
6. Talk To Neighbors And Friends
Talking to neighbors and friends of your aging parents can give you an overview of their engagement in life. If you do not live close to your loved ones, the insight and observations from others who do see them regularly is invaluable.
We all forget things! Forgetfulness becomes an issue when loved ones forget to take important medications and attend doctor appointments. Even forgetting routine tasks can indicate a decline in cognitive ability.
If you find yourself with aging parents who are no longer able to manage their affairs alone, it is time to seek additional assistance.
Assistance can come in many different forms depending on the need of your loved ones. The main thing is to NOT DELAY in taking action. Don’t wait until a crises to start making changes!
Caring.com has so much information to help elders and caregivers on this journey of life. Click the link below to tap into their resources.
If you want to read more about Elder Care, see my article “How To Have Tough Conversations With An Aging Loved One“.